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Full text of "The day of his youth"

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THE DAY OF HIS 
YOUTH 



BY 

ALICE BROWN 



f> 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

(Cbe fttoer#&e Jte#$, Cambridge 

MDCCCXCVII 



COPYRIGHT, 1897 

BY ALICE BROWN 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



THE RIVERSIDE PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, MASS., U. S. A. 

ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED BY 

H. O. HOUGHTON AND CO. 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

THE life of Francis Hume began in 
an old yet very real tragedy. His 
mother, a lovely young woman, died at 
the birth of her child : an event of every- 
day significance, if you judge by tables of 
mortality and the probabilities of being. 
She was the wife of a man well-known 
among honored American names, and her 
death made more than the usual ripple of 
nearer pain and wider condolence. To the 
young husband it was an afflicting calam- 
ity, entirely surprising even to those who 
were themselves acquainted with grief. 
He was not merely rebellious and wildly 
distraught, in the way of mourners. He 
sank into a cold sedateness of change. 
His life forsook its accustomed channels. 
Vividly alive to the one bright point still 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

burning in the past, toward the present 
world he seemed absolutely benumbed. 
Yet certain latent conceptions of the real 
values of existence must have sprung up 
in him, and protested against days to be 
thereafter dominated by artificial re- 
straints. He had lost his hold on life. 
He had even acquired a sudden distaste 
for it; but his previous knowledge of 
beauty and perfection would not suffer 
him to shut himself up in a cell of reserve, 
and isolate himself thus from his kind. 
He could become a hermit, but only under 
the larger conditions of being. He had 
the firmest conviction that he could never 
grow any more ; yet an imperative voice 
within bade him seek the highest out- 
look in which growth is possible. He 
had formed a habit of beautiful living, 
though in no sense a living for any other 
save the dual soul now withdrawn; and 
he could not be satisfied with lesser 
loves, the makeshifts of a barren life. 
So, turning from the world, he fled into 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

the woods ; for at that time Nature 
seemed to him the only great, and he re- 
solved that Francis, the son, should be 
nourished by her alone. 

One spring day, when the boy was 
eight years old, his father had said to 
him : — 

"We are going into the country to 
sleep in a tent, catch our own fish, cook 
it ourselves, and ask favors of no man." 

" Camping ! " cried the boy, in ecstasy. 

"No; living." 

The necessities of a simple life were 
got together, and supplemented by other 
greater necessities, — books, pictures, the 
boy's violin, — and they betook them- 
selves to a spot where the summer visitor 
was yet unknown, the shore of a lake 
stretching a silver finger toward the north. 
There they lived all summer, shut off 
from human intercourse save with old 
Pierre, who brought their milk and eggs 
and constituted their messenger-in-ordi- 
nary to the village, ten miles away. 
3 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

When autumn came, Ernest Hume 
looked into his son's brown eyes and 
asked, — 

" Now shall we go back ? " 

" No ! no ! no ! " cried the boy, with a 
child's passionate cumulation of accent. 

" Not when the snow comes ? " 

"No, father." 

" And the lake is frozen over ? " 

" No, father." 

"Then," said Hume, with a sigh of 
great content, " we must have a log-cabin, 
lest our bones lie bleaching on the shore." 

Next morning he went into the woods 
with Pierre and two men hastily sum- 
moned from the village, and there they 
began to make axe-music, the requiem of 
the trees. The boy sat by, dreaming as 
he sometimes did for hours before start- 
ing up to throw himself into the active 
delights of swimming, leaping, or rowing 
a boat. Next day, also, they kept on cut- 
ting into the heart of the forest. One 
dryad after another was despoiled of her 

4 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

shelter; one after another, the green 
tents of the bird and the wind were folded 
to make that sacred tabernacle — a home. 
Sometimes Francis chopped a little with 
his hatchet, not to be left out of the play, 
and then sat by again, smoothing the 
bruised f ern - forests, or whistling back 
the squirrels who freely chattered out 
their opinions on invasion. Then came 
other days just as mild winds were fan- 
ning the forest into gold, when the logs 
went groaning through the woods, after 
slow - stepping horses, to be piled into 
symmetry, tightened with plaster, and 
capped by a roof. This, windowed, swept 
and garnished, with a central fireplace 
wherein two fires could flame and roar, 
was the log-cabin. This was home. The 
hired builders had protested against its 
primitive form ; they sighed for a snug 
frame house, French roof and bay win- 
dows. " 'Ware the cold ! " was their 
daily croak. 

"We'll live in fur and toughen our- 
5 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

selves," said Ernest Hume. And turning 
to his boy that night, when they sat to- 
gether by their own fire, he asked, — 

"Shall we fashion our muscles into 
steel, our skin into armor? Shall we 
make our eyes strong enough to face the 
sun by day, and pure enough to meet the 
chilly stars at night ? Shall we have Na- 
ture for our only love ? Tell me, sir ! " 

And Francis, who hung upon his fa- 
ther's voice, even when the words were 
beyond him, answered, "Yes, father, 
please ! " and went on feeding birch strips 
to the fire, where they turned from vellum 
to mysterious missals blazoned by an un- 
seen hand. 

The idyl continued unbroken for twelve 
years. Yet it was not wholly idyllic, for, 
even with money multiplying for them 
out in the world, there were hard per- 
sonal conditions against which they had 
to fight. Ernest Hume delighted in the 
fierceness of the winter wind, the cold 
resistance of the snow; cut off, as he 
6 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

honestly felt himself to be, from spiritual 
growth, he had great joy in strengthening 
his physical being until it waxed into inso- 
lent might. Francis, too, took so happily 
to the stern yet lovely phases of their 
life that his father never thought of possi- 
ble wrong to him in so shaping his early 
years. As for Ernest Hume, he had 
bound himself the more irrevocably to 
right living by renouncing artificial bonds. 
He had removed his son from the world, 
and he had thereby taken upon himself 
the necessity of becoming a better world. 
Therefore he did not allow himself in any 
sense to rust out. He did a colossal 
amount of mental burnishing ; and, a gen- 
tleman by nature, he adopted a daily pur- 
ity of speech and courtesy of manner 
which were less like civilized life than the 
efflorescence of chivalry at its best. He 
had chosen for himself a part ; by his 
will, a Round Table sprang up in the 
woods, though two knights only were to 
hold counsel there. 

7 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

The conclusion of the story — so far 
as a story is ever concluded — must be 
found in the words of Francis Hume. 
Before he was twenty, his strength began 
stirring within him, and he awoke, not to 
any definite discontent, but to that fever 
of unrest which has no name. Possibly 
a lad of different temperament might not 
have kept housed so long; but he was 
apparently dreamy, reflective, in love with 
simple pleasures, and, though a splendid 
young animal, inspired and subdued by a 
thrilling quality of soul. And he woke 
up. How he awoke may be learned only 
from his letters. 

These papers have, by one of the in- 
credible chances of life, come into my 
hands. I see no possible wrong in their 
publication, for now the Humes are dead, 
father and son ; nay, even the name 
adopted here was not their own. They 
were two slight bubbles of being, destined 
to rise, to float for a time, and to be again 
resolved into the unknown sea. Yet 
8 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

while they lived, they were iridescent ; 
the colors of a far-away sun played upon 
them, and they sent him back his gleams. 
To lose them wholly out of life were 
some pain to those of us who have been 
privileged to love them through their 
own written confessions. So here are 
they given back to the world which in no 
other way could adequately know them. 



I NEVER had a friend ! Did any hu- Francis 
man creature twenty years old ever Hume 
write that before, unless he did it in a u n ^ nown 
spirit of bitterness because he was out of Friend* 
humor with his world ? Yet I can say it, 
knowing it to be the truth. My father 
and I are one, the oak and its branch, the 
fern and its fruitage; but for somebody 
to be the mirror of my own thoughts, 

* This title is adopted by the editor that the narrative 
may be at least approximately clear. The paragraphs 
headed thus were scribblings on loose sheets : a sort of 
desultory journal. 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

tantalizingly strange, intoxicatingly new, 
where shall I look? Ah, but I know! 
I will create him from my own longings. 
He shall be born of the blood and sinew 
of my brain and heart. Stand forth, beau- 
tiful one, made in the image of my fancy, 
and I will tell thee all — all I am ashamed 
to tell my father, and tired of imprison- 
ing in my own soul. What shall I call 
thee ? Friend : that will be enough, all- 
comprehending and rich in joy. To-day I 
have needed thee more than ever, though 
it is only to-day that I learned to recog- 
nize the need. All the morning a sweet 
languor held me, warm, like the sun, and 
touched with his fervor, so that I felt 
within me darts of impelling fire. I sat 
in the woods by the spring, my eyes on 
the dancing shadows at my feet, not 
thinking, not willing, yet expectant. I 
felt as if something were coming, and 
that I must be ready to meet it when the 
great moment should strike. Suddenly 
my heart beat high in snatches of rhythm ; 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

my feet stirred, my ears woke to the 
whir of wings, and my eyes to flickering 
shade. My whole self was whelmed and 
suffocated in a wave of sweet delight. 
And then it was that my heart cried out 
for another heart to beat beside it and 
make harmony for the two ; then it was 
that thou, dear one, wast born from my 
thought. I am not disloyal in seeking 
companionship. My father is myself. 
Let me say that over and over. When I 
tell him my fancies, he smiles sadly, saying 
they are the buds of youth, born never to 
flower. To him Nature is goddess and 
mother; he turns to her for sustenance 
by day, and lies on her bosom at night. 
After death he will be content to rest in 
her arms and become one flesh with her 
mould. But I — I ! O, is it because I 
am young ; and will the days chill out this 
strange, sweet fever, as they have in him ? 
Two years ago — yes, a year — I had no 
higher joy than to throw myself, body 
and soul, into motion : to row, fish, swim, 
ii 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

to listen, in a dream of happiness, while 
my father read old Homer to me in the 
evening, or we masterfully swept through 
duets — 'cello and violin — that my sleep 
was too dreamless to repeat to me. And 
now the very world is changed ; help me 
to understand it, my friend ; or, if I am to 
blame, help me to conquer myself. 



ii 

I have much to tell thee, my friend! 
and of a nature never before known in 
these woods and by this water. Last 
night, at sunset, I stood on the Point 
waiting for my father to come in from 
his round about the island, when sud- 
denly a boat shot out from Silver Stream 
and came on toward me, rowed to the 
accompaniment of a song I never heard 
I stood waiting, for the voices were beau- 
tiful, one high and strong (and as I 
listened, it flashed upon me that my 
father had said the 'cello is like a woman 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

singing), another, deep and rich. There 
were two men, as I saw when they neared 
me, and two women ; and all were young. 
The men — what were they like? I 
hardly know, except that they made me 
feel ashamed of my roughness. And the 
women ! One was yellow - haired and 
pale; she had a fairy build, I think, and 
her shoulders were like the birch-tree. 
Her head was bare, and the sun — he 
had stayed to do it — had turned all 
the threads to gold. She was so white ! 
white as the tiarella in the spring. When 
I saw her, I bent forward ; they looked 
my way, and I drew back behind the tree. 
I had been curious, and I was ashamed ; 
it seemed to me they might stop and say, 
"Who is this fellow who lives in the 
woods and stares at people like an owl 
by night ?" But the oars dipped, and 
the boat and song went on. The song ! 
if I but knew it! It called my feet to 
dancing. It was like laughter and the 
play of the young squirrels. I watched 
13 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

for them to go back, and in an hour they 
did, still singing in jubilant chorus; and 
after that came my father. As soon as 
I saw him, I knew something had hap- 
pened. I have never seen him so sad, so 
weary. He put his hand on my shoulder, 
after we had beached the boat and were 
walking up to the cabin. 

" Francis/ ' he said, "our good days are 
over." 

"Why?" I asked. 

It appeared to me, for some reason, 
that they had just begun; perhaps be- 
cause the night was so fragrant and the 
stars so near. The world had never 
seemed so homelike and so warm. I 
knew how a bird feels in its own soft 
nest. 

"Because some people have come to 
camp on the Bay Shore. I saw their 
tents, and asked Pierre. He says they 
are here for the summer. Fool ! fool 
that I was, not to buy that land ! " 

" But perhaps we shall like them ! " I 
14 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

said, and my voice choked in the saying, 
the world seemed so good, so strange. 
He grasped my shoulder, and his fingers 
felt like steel. " Boy ! boy ! " he whis- 
pered. For a minute, I fancied he was 
crying, as I cried once, years ago, when 
my rabbit died. " I knew it would come," 
he said. " Kismet ! I bow the neck. Put 
thy foot upon it gently, if may be." 

We went on to the cabin, but somehow 
we could not talk ; and it was not long 
before my father sought his tent. I went 
also to mine, and lay down as I was : but 
not to sleep. Those voices sang in my 
ears, and my heart beat till it choked me. 
Outside, the moon was at full flood, and 
I could bear it no longer. I crept softly 
out of my tent, and ran — lightly, so that 
my father should not hear, but still swiftly 
— to the beach. I pushed off a boat, 
grudging every grating pebble, and dipped 
my oars carefully, not to be heard. My 
father would not have cared, for often I 
go out at midnight ; but I felt strangely. 
is 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

Yet I knew I must see those tents. Out 
of his earshot, I rowed in hot haste, and 
every looming tree on the wooded bank 
seemed to whisper " Hurry ! hurry ! " I 
rounded the Point in a new agony lest I 
should never hear those singing voices 
again ; and there lay the tents, white in 
the moonlight. I rowed into the shadow 
of a cliff, tied my boat, and crept along the 
shore. I could see my mates, and they 
were mad with fun. Perhaps a dozen 
people stood there together on the sand 
laughing, inciting one another to some 
merrier deed. I stayed in the shadow 
of my tree, watching them. Then five 
who were in bathing-dress began wading, 
and struck out swimming lazily. She 
was there, the slight, young creature, 
now with her hair in a glory below her 
waist. The jealous dark had hid its gold, 
but I knew what it would be by day. 
They swam about, calling and laughing 
in delicious tones, while those on the 
bank — older people I think — challenged 
16 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

and cautioned them. Then a cry went 
up, "The raft! the raft ! " and they be- 
gan swimming out, while the women on 
the bank urged them not to dive, but to 
wait until to-morrow. I thought I had 
seen all the sports of young creatures, 
but I never dreamed of anything so full of 
happy delight in life as that one girl who 
climbed on the raft without touching the 
hand a man offered to help her, and 
danced about on it, laughing like a wood- 
thrush gone mad with joy, while the 
other women shrieked in foolish snatches. 
Then a man dived from the raft, and 
another. A woman called from shore, 
"Don't dive, Zoe, to-night ! " and sud- 
denly I knew she was Zoe, and that she 
would dive and that I must be with her. 
I knocked off my shoes, waded out, still 
in the shadow, and swam toward the raft. 
As I neared it, there was one splash after 
another ; then they were coming up, and 
I was among them. It seemed as if I 
had dreamed it, and knew how it would 
17 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

all happen; for when her head, sleek as 
polished metal, came up beside me, I 
knew it would, and that I should grasp 
her dress and swim back with her to 
land. She was surprised ; but quite me- 
chanically she swam beside me. 

" Let me alone, Tom," she said at last. 
"I don't want to go in." I had guided 
her down the bank to my shadowy covert, 
and there we rose on our feet in shallow 
water. Then she turned and looked at 
me. I was not Tom. I was a stranger. 
I wondered if she would be frightened, if 
it was a woman's way to scream ; and, 
still worse, if the others would come. I 
felt that if they did come to mar that 
one moment, I should kill them. But 
she was scarcely even surprised. I saw 
a quiver at the corner of her mouth. 

"Will you tell me who you are?" she 
asked, in a very soft, cool voice. 

" You must never dive again from that 
raft," said I, and my own voice sounded 
rough and hard. "Pierre knew better 
18 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

than to let you anchor it there. The 
water is too shallow. There are rocks." 

"You are the hermit's son!" quite as 
if she had not heard me, and still looking 
at me with a little smile. 

"You have been in the water long 
enough/' said I. " Go to your tent at 
once and dress. In another minute you 
will be shivering.' ' 

At that she broke into laughter ; it was 
like the moonlight ripple of the lake. 

"Sir, I obey," she said with a mock 
humility which enchanted me. " Good- 
night." She walked up the bank, her 
wet skirt dripping as she went. I stood 
dazed, foolish, looking after. Then as 
she threaded among the trees toward the 
glimmer of a tent, I recovered myself and 
ran after her. 

"Tell me," I said in haste, "tell me, 
are you Zoe ? " 

She was walking on, and I kept pace 
with her, knowing how rash I was to 
follow. She turned her head. 
'9 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

"Not to you," she answered, without 
pausing in her walk. " Good-night ! " 
and she was gone. 

I know I found my boat, and that, as I 
rowed away, there were cries of " Zoe ! " 
from the swimmers who had missed her. 
I was dripping, but my blood ran fast. 
Was she cold? Was she shivering? 
Fools, to let so delicate a creature go into 
the water at night ! The men were fools. 

hi 

Ask me now what of the night and 
what of the day, for I am the watchman 
who is fixing his eyes upon life and find- 
ing it good. Again I knew there were 
events in the wind. This morning my 
father, too, was uneasy, and when we had 
finished our work, we went out together 
to the grove near the landing, each with a 
book ; but we did not read. He watched 
the lake, and I tried not to listen for the 
dip of oars. At last it came, — O happy 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

sound ! — and when I started up, I found 
his glance upon me. 

" Yes, they are coming/' he said sadly, 
bitterly. " It seems we both expected it." 

I could not answer, for I do not under- 
stand him. Why should it be a grief to 
him more than to me, this seeing men 
and women who talk and laugh, with 
whom one could say all one thought with- 
out being misunderstood, and who can 
bring us such news of the world ? But I 
had not time to say these things, for they 
were coming, two boatloads of them ; and 
I ran down to the landing to meet them. 
She was in the first boat, her hair covered 
now, but kissed by the sun wherever he 
could reach it. With her was an older 
woman, the brown-eyed young one, and 
the same young men. The boat touched 
the landing, and I helped the other 
women ashore ; but she put her fingers 
on the shoulder of a man in the boat and 
stepped past me. Why ? why ? my heart 
cried out to her. Does she hate me for 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

last night ? Am I so different from her 
people because I live in the woods ? In 
the moment I hesitated, thinking it over, 
they all got on shore, and were standing 
about my father and talking to him. 
Then I found he had known them, years 
ago. 

" You have changed," the older woman 
was saying. " You are sadder, but not 
so bitter/ ' 

"That must be because of my son," 
he said. And he turned to me, and 
named me to them, and I heard their 
names. She is Zoe Montrose, the older 
woman is her aunt, and the two men her 
cousins ; the others, all young, all laugh- 
ing, and looking and moving about like 
birds, are friends. 

" Do you mean to say you have brought 
him up in this wilderness ? " asked Mrs. 
Montrose in a whisper I heard. "He is 
perfect/ ' And then she added, after a 
quick glance at my face, " Quite perfect, 
for he can blush." 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

My father turned aside as if he had 
no stomach for soft speeches, and asked 
them to sit on the bank, because it was 
pleasanter out of doors. And though 
Mrs. Montrose said plainly that she wished 
to see how we lived, he only smiled and 
led her to a seat under a tree. No one 
can withstand my father. It seems to 
me, now that I see him with other people, 
that he is far finer, more courteous, more 
commanding than any of them. 

"Bring us the wine, Francis," he said 
to me, and I went in to find he had set 
it out on a salver in a beautiful decan- 
ter I had never seen, and that there were 
glasses and bits of bread all ready, as if 
he had expected guests. I brought it 
out, and then went back for the little 
glasses ; and my father served them all. 
She held her glass in her hand, and I 
feared she would not drink ; but suddenly, 
behind the others, she lifted the glass, 
bowed to me, and a quick smile ran over 
her face. And then she set it to her lips, 
23 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

still looking at me. It was I who took 
the glasses away, and hers, which had 
not been emptied, I left inside my tent. 
(O, you know, my friend, my other self, 
what these things are to me ! only you ! 
only you !) 

"This is Homeric/' said Mrs. Mont- 
rose. "Bread and wine. The flesh is 
happily absent." 

" Did you expect the blood of ■ mut- 
tons, beefs, or goats ' ? " asked my father. 
"Sacrifice may come later." 

Then followed a great deal of talk; 
but I have not been used to hearing so 
many people speaking at once, and I could 
scarcely follow, and cannot at all remem- 
ber it. But while I sat fearing every 
instant that they would go, my heart 
bounded again, for Mrs. Montrose asked 
us both to row over to their camp and 
lunch with them. My father at once re- 
fused, sternly I thought, but he added, 
without looking at me, — 

"I cannot answer for my son." 
24 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

" O, yes, I will go," I cried. I must 
have been very eager, for they all 
laughed; all except my father, and he 
replied, "So be it." 

They said good-by to him, and flut- 
tered down to the wharf; and I pushed 
off my boat with the rest. 

" Good-by I" I called to him, but he 
only waved his hand and turned away. 



CERTAINLY I meant every word I From Zoe 
said. The moment I saw what you Montrose 
had written for that stupid game, I knew H 
you had a marvelous facility of expres- 
sion. No doubt your father has nour- 
ished it by making you write so many 
reams of criticism ; but it is evident 
that you had a gift in the beginning, 
the golden gift in the hand. And so, 
as I am one who thinks no fortune 
happier than that of the artisan trained 
to hammer out a phrase, what is more 
natural than that I should long for you 
25 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

to ascend from prentice to workman? 
Therefore write me, — " every day i' the 
hour," if you will, — and by all means 
drop the letters in the hollow tree. Here 
in this forest is the happy reverse of the 
world - shield ; let conventions also be 
turned topsy-turvy, and letter-carriers be 
eschewed for a box of living oak and a 
cushion of crumbling mould. I will be 
your playmate, your comrade; not your 
friend. I hate the word between men 
and women. It is a mantle for mawkish 
sentiment, the kind that stalks about 
solemnly like a Puritan at a play, seeing 
all and affecting his own superiority. 
But, an you will, be my comrade only; 
let the Forest of Arden spring up again 
greenly, and let us play at simplicity and 
outspoken joy; all for the sake of devel- 
oping your style! But, first of all, I do 
not like your reason for asking me to 
write to you ; you cannot see me alone, 
forsooth ! and you have a thousand ques- 
tions which the others give us no time to 
26 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

ask and answer. Nonsense, doubled and 
trebled ! You know enough of me. Be 
content to take me as I seem, and not as 
I am in the world's eyes and in my own ; 
then you will the longer think me worthy 
to walk your Arden Forest. Not that I 
have anything to conceal. I am no more 
very bad than very good ; but it is the 
tragic consequence of living in this world 
that (especially if we be men ! you, sir, I 
mean you !) we idealize and then weigh — 
admire, laud to the skies, and then shove 
under the lens — only to find that all 
flesh is dust, and differeth not, except so 
much as sea-sand and mountain-loam. So 
be content to know this only about me : 
that I am five years your senior (a quar- 
ter-century, ye gods !), that I am poor 
and once was ambitious ; that I earned 
my bread, as governess and intermittent 
literary hack, until a year ago, when a 
tiny fortune was left me by a relative 
whom the immortals loved not, since 
he lived so long ; that I have written 
27 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

three novels, moderately successful, and 
am burning to find out whether I can 
write a play; and, last of all, that my 
aunt invited me down here to spend this 
summer in what she calls communion 
with nature. There! the chapter is 
closed. Be egotistical, you; but suffer 
me to talk about things seen and heard, 
not of those pertaining to the particle Me. 
Tell me everything you will, and without 
restraint. I may not criticise your style, 
though I shall watch to see it develop 
into something fine. 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



YOUR letter! no, mine, as nothing 
has ever been mine since I was 
born, for it was conceived for me and 
moulded for my eyes only. The words 
you have said to me, even in those long 
hours on the lake, under the rose of sun- 
set, are tantalizingly lost, though I try to 
recall them as I lie at night looking at 
the sky from my bed; I know their 
28 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

sense, their sound, yet something sweetly 
personal is gone, like a fragrance es- 
caped. This is mine : transcript of your 
beautiful soul upon a page less white. 
But though we talk all day on the lake 
and half the night by camp-fires under 
the moon, what can I say to you on this 
cold paper and with this dull pen ? Ah, 
but the thoughts I send you ! The 
winged invisible messengers that go speed- 
ing between us in those silent hours 
when my father sleeps, and I lie in my 
tent watching the solemn top of the great 
pine, and over it the stars ! Those mes- 
sages will never be told ; earth has no 
speech for them. They are beyond the 
scope of music. Yet there must be 
speech for them somewhere. They are 
like the overtones we cannot hear unless 
our ears are delicately attuned ; and if 
you, in your tent, were lying in an ecstasy 
of waiting for them as I in a rapture of 
sending, then would you not hear ? But 
the thought is too great, too terrible. 
29 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

That would be as if we were gods, to 
taste no more of earthly chills and lan- 
guors. Do you know what has happened 
to me since I saw you first ? I have 
grown blind to the rest of this little 
world. My father's voice sounds far-off 
and hollow ; even his face is strange, as 
if half hidden by a mist. I do not see 
the others at your camp, even though 
they and all their ways ought to be deli- 
ciously new to me, like another language. 
Only when some one touches your hand, 
or gives you a flower, or treats you famil- 
iarly ! Then a sudden passion of hatred 
for the whole world shakes me to the 
centre, and I long to seize you in my 
arms, and speed away with you, along 
the lake and over the hills. I am, in my 
own eyes, what I have always supposed 
savages to be ; perhaps I am a savage. 
But there is one agony you might spare 
me : the story of your life before you 
came here. Twenty wasted years, and I 
did not know you ! Spring after spring 
30 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

and snow upon snow, when, like an earth- 
born beast, I was living here in content, 
rowing, skating, talking with the birds, 
and you, not fifty miles away, had risen 
like a star and were gleaming there in that 
inaccessible heaven. That this should be 
so, that I must accept it, is terrible to me ; 
but to hear the story of it is like a fore- 
taste of death. It fascinates, it draws 
me, and yet it kills. That you should 
say "we" over and over again, when you 
talk of the music you have heard, the 
books you have read, is more than I can 
bear. But I would not have you cease. 
I must know all, all ; and yet it tortures. 



FRANKLY, I don't at all like the Zoe Mont- 
tone of your letter. I like it as rose to 
little as I approve your fashion of treat- 
ing me " before folks." You glower upon 
me; half as if I were daughter of the 
sun and you his priest, and half Circas- 
sian slave. I don't like it ! I came here 
31 



Francis 
Hume 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

to these solitudes for rest and mental 
peace. My mind is lying fallow. Should 
it waken to any immediate fertility, I 
don't want to expend it on you, either in 
antiphonal sentiment or in staving off 
heroics. To speak brutally, I want it for 
the publisher and mine own after-glory. 
If this plain statement of the case does n't 
blight the peach-blossoms of your fancy, 
I don't know what will. Write me about 
your life here, the life of the woods and 
lake. You know enough bird-lore never 
learned from books to write a thousand 
St. Francis sermons. Even the fish have 
told you secrets. I fancy they think you 
some strange, fresh-water whale not to 
be accounted for. Tell me about them ; 
and drop this mawkish sentiment caught 
from books. 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



I HAVE read your last letter, but I 
only half understand you, and I must 
wholly disobey. For I have learned the 



32 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

meaning of all things created, the sky and 
the earth, the stars that are the habita- 
tions of loving angels, and the worm who 
seeks his mate. I love you ! It is that 
for which I have lived my twenty years. 
At last, without warning, my life has flow- 
ered, and the fragrance of the blossom 
intoxicates me, its color blinds. At first 
I only knew the earth was changed, and 
that I could never be the same; but I 
did not translate the knowledge. All the 
poets had not told me enough ; Shake- 
speare had not prepared me. But last 
night — do I ever sleep now? — when I 
lay thinking, thinking, and always of you, 
my soul spoke and said to me, " So great 
a thing must be eternal. This longing 
is like a Beethoven Sonata; it will live 
and live, growing in glory and color, 
through the ages, even if it live in your 
soul alone.' ' And I woke to the sense of 
it all, and spoke aloud : " It is love ! " It 
is like having a treasure given me to be 
all my own ; for now I have a word for 
33 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

happy use, and I can say over and over, 
"I love you," and so tell you all. I can 
whisper "Beloved" in the brief pauses 
when the others are with us and I have 
only the chance of a word in your ear. 
But let me see you next alone. Let me 
look into your eyes, and demand whether 
your soul also has had revelation of the 
truth. 



Zoe MonU 
rose to 
Francis 
Hume 



I ASK myself whether this had to come 
to you so soon, and whether I could 
have prevented it. I am afraid not. You 
were bound to fancy the first woman you 
met, and that woman chanced to be Zoe 
Montrose. I know exactly how it was. 
I have yellow hair, and the sun shone 
on it. There is always a reason, if one 
could follow it far enough. It might 
have been Clara. She was with me in 
the boat, if you remember ; only the sun 
struck her hair at a different angle, and 
you never discovered how red it is in 
34 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

the hollows, how like leaf mould without 
Bismillah ! the gods have selected me 
for your enlightenment, and their will be 
done. I am glad for you in one particu- 
lar only. I am a worldly woman, filled 
from the crown to the toe topful of 
earthly wisdom ; but I am not of those 
sentimental sirens who, in the strictest 
good-breeding, turn men into beasts by 
dallying with their worship, and then 
leaving them high and dry on the rock 
of disillusionment. I am honest, and I 
will sweep away your cobwebs in the be- 
ginning. My dear, there is no such thing 
as love as you conceive it. What you 
and the other poets have seen is a will- 
o'-the-wisp, created, heaven knows why, 
save that we may learn hard lessons and 
that the world may be peopled. You 
feel for me an ecstasy of devotion. You 
think it will be eternal ; that you were 
made for me and I for you, and that our 
two souls will sail forever on in each 
other's company, chanting pretty trifles 
35 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

by the way. God bless and save you! 
this is the very hyperbole of the poets, 
and of poets under forty at that. What 
dominates you is a fever of the blood, an 
attendant delirium 01 the mind solely de- 
pending on your youth and my passable 
prettiness. I wish you might have been 
saved ; but it had to happen. I wish, too, 
that the attack might leave you lightly ; 
but that, also, owing to your unfortunate 
temperament, is impossible. I can only 
show my real liking for you by acting 
sedately, and sitting by your bedside un- 
til you rise up sane again and put your 
hand to the world's w r ork. Do you want 
this emotion you call love translated to 
you by a woman who has studied her 
kind as you study the birds ? You say it 
is, it must be (O, most pitiful cry of the 
finite after infinity !) eternal. It is no- 
thing of the sort. It is prosaically and 
sordidly of this earth, especially in the 
case of men. I grant you that many 
women do subordinate their lives to what 
36 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

they call a great passion (poor Amelia cry- 
ing over George's picture ! O sad, true 
travesty of the worship we so exalt !), 
but it is because they have fewer inter- 
ests, and because tradition has glorified 
feminine faithfulness and society built its 
temples on woman's chastity. But men ! 
I know them. Do not expect me to own, 
for a moment, that any man is going to 
worship any woman all his life long with 
the f ervor he shows in pursuing the game: 
any are kind, some are tender, even to 
gray hairs and the grave ; but that par- 
ticular form of idolatry which you offer 
me like a jewel in a case, — it turns to 
paste in less than ten years, and I will 
have none of it But v. 

self outside the pale of humankind? 
It is a joy, though fleeting, and if others 
prize it, even brie not I I I know 

self too welL I am, in many ways, a 
hard woman. My heart is bedded in a 
crust of flint, and no daw shall peck at it 
But if that armor were worn away, if I 

37 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

did sink my traditions to become all- 
womanly, if I pinned life and soul and 
faith and breath to a man — O, I shud- 
der to think of seeing that morning-glow 
fade into the light of common day. It is 
such women as I who break their hearts ; 
not your sentimental miss who goes pul- 
ing about, prating love and religion, and 
confiding in her pastor. I have laughed 
long at what I call sentiment, but I am 
more sentimental than the sentimentalist. 
I own the awful power of one soul over 
its opposite ; but it is a power to which I 
will not give way. Now, in plain words, 
what should be the outcome of love ? 
Marriage. And marriage ; what of that ? 
It is a welding of two souls, say you, be- 
fore an altar where a sacred fire is ever 
after to be kept burning. According to 
my idea, gathered from observation, it is 
a business partnership gilded by certain 
pretty fictions which no one pretends to 
observe. For six months, a year, five 
years, the husband worships his wife with 
38 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

an ideality which ought to turn beggar- 
maids to queens and queens to angels. 
Then, plainly, he gets used to her. She 
is a very good woman, but her like has 
been seen before, and may be again. His 
nature has a dozen sides to be satisfied ; 
he is ambitious, he loves art, or money, 
or his dirty fellow-men. All very well, 
you say ; without such bent, souls would 
be cramped and torpid. Ah, but mean- 
time the altar-fire dies down ! If she 
loves him truly, — 

" And if, ah woe ! she loves alone," 

she tends it with her poor, weak hands ; 
but no longer are the ministrants two. 
The little observances of love are for- 
gotten, or they degenerate into a mean- 
ingless form more pitiful than silence. 
You grant, I suppose, that there is a 
higher life to be sought, one of aspiration, 
or holy companionship in great deeds and 
truer speech, — but as I live by bread, I 
doubt whether husbands and wives can 
39 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

keep that track together. You are a 
young Galahad with Lancelot's heart. I 
believe in you, I care mightily for you 
in a certain way ; but you are a man, and 
none of the weaknesses of mankind are 
foreign to you. I am a woman, and, hard 
as my heart may be, it is made to be 
broken. Therefore say no more to me 
about this foolish fever of your youth. 
Believe me, it is a malady incident to the 
time. It will pass, in this present form, 
sometime to be renewed. You will love 
other women, and one day the unexpres- 
sive she will appear who has never once 
peeped into these worldly text-books. 
Hand in hand, she and you will learn the 
lesson together. It may be bitter, it may 
not. There are those, I believe, whom 
the gods forget ; but I have no faith in 
myself escaping their thrusts. 
40 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

WHY would you not let me talk to Francis 
you yesterday, without waiting to Hume 
depend on this poverty-stricken expedi- ° Mo „ trose 
ent ? I have not had an instant alone 
with you. But I love you ! I love you ! 
Who shall prevent me from saying that ! 
You may refuse to hear it, you may leave 
my letters unread ; yet all the trees of 
the forest shall whisper it with gossip- 
ing tongues. But no more of this now. 
Your letter has made me feel imperatively 
that a demand has been made upon me : 
the demand of proving myself a man, and 
worthy, if any man can be, of the inesti- 
mable treasure of -your heart. So it be- 
comes me to be calm, and reply to what 
you say, not with mad protest, but with 
just consideration. I am a man, and no 
weakness of mankind is foreign to me. 
I grant it. (Though my heart throbs 
within me to swear such fealty as you 
have never yet dreamed. But let that 
pass. My life shall show.) Well, and 
41 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

suppose the first glow of new acquaint- 
anceship does fade. Let it go. Might 
not something finer usurp its place, as the 
flower is more than leaf or bud ? If it be 
possible that this great rapture should 
vanish (O, I know better than you, with 
all your worldly lore! It is perennial, 
ever-returning like the spring, though 
snows may intervene), do you think my 
tenderness would allow one sweet observ- 
ance to fade ? What infinite loving must 
grow of a daily life together, what fine 
consideration, what pride in each others 
achievement, what mutual joy! I have 
talked long enough on paper. Take me, 
and let me serve you all my life, guard 
you, cherish you, and prove the truth. 



Zoe Mont- qpENDERNESS and constancy ! that, 
r ° se ° . A my child, is friendship — it is not 

Francis J ' r 

Hume love. And I can gather a very good 
article of friendship from many a wayside 
bush without going over hot ploughshares 
42 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

to seek it. Listen, and I will tell you 
exactly how I learned to interpret the 
later course of passion. I lived and 
breathed it side by side and heart to heart 
with a woman once. I will not tell you 
her name; she is living, and some time 
you may know her. I had a friend, and 
I loved her. She married a man who 
worshiped her, who was intoxicated by 
her as you are by me. He was her 
slave, if I may say that of one who took 
more than he bestowed ; but though he 
absorbed her life and narrowed it in cer- 
tain ways, he made her divinely happy. 
So it went on for years, until suddenly, 
through some new combination of cir- 
cumstances, they were separated for a 
time, and he woke up. O telltale phrase 
in the life of a man! You don't know 
how much it means now, but you will 
know. She was dazed, confounded. Not 
that he was unkind to her ; he was a 
gentleman, though a gentleman grown 
indifferent. About that time he drifted 

43 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

into friendship with another woman, led 
thereto, he would have said, by their 
kindred tastes. Nothing vicious here, 
nothing to distress the taste of law-abid- 
ing citizens ; but a tragedy of the soul. 
I wonder if I can paint it for you. Here 
was a passionately devoted wife, taught 
by every act and word and look of years 
to depend for happiness on one living 
creature : to turn to him, as to the sun, 
for life and nourishment. Suddenly the 
sun was withdrawn, the light went out ; 
she was expected to see by candle. Do 
not imagine that she betrayed him to me ; 
we are not like that. I knew because 
she was so dear to me, and I had lived 
beside her and learned her thoughts. I 
felt the tragedy as it was enacted, day by 
day. I saw her poor face sodden with 
weeping. I suppose she reproached him 
at first, wildly, in woman's way. I sup- 
pose that because I knew him to be an- 
gry and bored. But when she saw little 
winning attentions which had once been 

44 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

hers given to another, I think it began 
to dawn upon her that they had never 
meant anything from the first. They 
were subjective, if I may put it so : a 
part of the man's nature, the trophy of 
any one who knew the password. Then 
the whole woman hardened. She re- 
proached him no more. If he showered 
on her some of the unspent coin of his 
affection, she took it graciously, not treas- 
uring it even in thought ; because she 
dared not build again a house upon the 
sand. Her individuality grew mightily 
meantime. She became a creature of a 
wonderful strength and depth of thought ; 
but her heart is dead within her. Some- 
times I can see that she is even amused, 
in a pathetic way, at finding how lightly 
his indifference can pass over her. Now 
this was a good man, as men go. He 
would have scorned a sin larger than this 
romantic peccadillo, — but he was a man ! 
He had waked up and found himself 
bored. And so would you ! So far as I 
45 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

have been able to unravel it, what we 
call love is only a compound of selfishness 
and vanity. The lover gives so long as 
the return amuses him. He buys with 
his devotion a counter-devotion calculated 
to make him supremely happy ; but when 
the story grows old, he yawns and goes 
elsewhere, either to smoke, run for office, 
write a book, or worship another woman. 
Never imagine that I decry men and ex- 
alt my own poor kind. Woman is the 
more constant only because she has been 
taught, through nature and inheritance, 
to give once and forever ; and God made 
man to be gregarious. 

I have told you my friend's secret. 
Now I will tell you mine. There is a 
man in the world — not you — who holds 
for me the fascination we are accustomed 
to call love. God knows, it is an earth- 
born attraction, for he is one who loves 
himself far more than he even professes 
to love me, and there is not one higher 
aspiration of my soul to which he would 
46 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

minister. He would tire of me, and he 
would break my heart. Therefore I will 
have none of him, though a mighty hand 
seems ever dragging me toward him, and 
though that part of me which is in love 
with the intoxications of life bids me 
make one throw for happiness and then 
die in despair. And neither will I have 
aught of you, though you seem to me a 
young St. Michael with lance of honor 
and shield of strength. 



I do not know why, but for some reason Francis 
your letter has not killed my hope. Hume 
Perhaps it would have done so, but I took 
it into the woods, the deeper woods, where 
I have begun to go of late to be wholly 
alone. For now even the tents by day- 
light seem to me like multitudes of eyes, 
and my father, also, breaks in on my 
dream. So I carried it to the woods 
where the light flickered and the shadows 
of little leaves played upon their larger 

47 



to Zoe 

Montrose 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

mates. They seemed to me like the 
phantasmagoria of being. I had not be- 
gun to think of such things till I saw you. 
Life has grown infinitely sad, as well as 
infinitely beautiful. It has a haze : the 
haze of twilight. Well, the letter! It 
jarred upon me; that is a matter of 
course. It removed you from me, im- 
measurably, with its hints of a knowledge 
which I may never attain. When shall I 
be your equal, even in the wisdom of this 
world ? You have known so many peo- 
ple; I only one. That of itself makes 
me sad. And then when I came to the 
inexplicable fact that there was one you 
might love, I felt within me a savage pain, 
a rising of hot blood, such as I never 
knew. What was it ? Has it a name ? 
Does it mean a futile passion because life, 
destiny, have treated us so brutally, set- 
ting you there and me here, so that your 
loves grew away from me, and the ten- 
drils of your nature twined another way ? 
And thus I sat suffering. But soon the 
48 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

wood drew me into her arms. I have 
never thought much about beauty ; it has 
always been about me. But of late it has 
spoken with a new voice. O the quiver- 
ing of the blue sky-patches, the duskiness 
of shade ! The tree-trunks were black 
from the morning rain, and everything set 
upon a stem waved and fluttered, though 
so slightly that it was rhythm and not 
motion. The faint shadow on the tiarella 
leaf seemed to me divine ; the maiden- 
hair rustled greenly, and far off, in other 
arches, the thrush smote softly on his 
silver bells. And you were the soul of it. 
I should not have been surprised to see 
you there in some dim vista, with the sun 
upon your hair. But I shall never be 
surprised again at seeing you. You are 
in my world now ; and my world cannot 
move without you. O, but I wish you 
were not so wise ! I would you had 
never learned this strange and intricate 
game they call society. What profit is in 
it for you, but what infinite pain is there 

49 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

in it to me! These are the ironies of 
Those Who are above us. (That is my 
father's phrase ; he talks of Them some- 
times, in the night when he cannot sleep, 
and walks up and down the cabin as if he 
wished it were a world for width. The 
ironies of the immortal gods ! I begin to 
understand my father a little now. I 
thought I understood him before.) We 
two, you and I, should have been born like 
twin birds in a nest, and gone singing 
away to the south. (Yet O my bird of 
the shining wing, O my bird! I would 
not have you other than you are.) We 
should have grown together, twin plants, 
from the sweet black earth, to twine and 
blossom and die. But it was not so to 
be ; and therein I see what they call the 
hardships of life, and against such will I 
take my lance and shield, and ride forth. 
I will watch beside my arms, and draw 
down holiness from heaven, to be worthy 
to fight for you, and wear your favor. 
Not worthy of winning you — O, mistake 
50 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

me not in that ! No heart was ever hum- 
bler than mine before its lady. Yet, as I 
am a man, my reward must come. I will 
win the world's delight, and I will wear 
her in the eye of the world : I, her plain 
and humble squire, whose only pride is 
to keep unsmirched for her fair sake. I 
have not your wisdom, but I begin to be- 
lieve that I have a will to conquer ; and 
it shall be bent upon my quest as if the 
world, — aye, and the sun ! — were made 
for that. But tell me, you who know the 
lore of men, when we really begin to live; 
do we always ache so at the heart ? 



M 



Y CHILD, — Your questions are Zc* Mont- 
delicious. What you felt on read- rou t0 
ing my letter ? Yes, Sir Innocence, it hath jZ*™" 
a name : Jealousy. 'T is a very legitimate 
passion, so I think, but it hath earned 
in the world a bad repute. You white- 
armored child! this meeting a soul so 
dense to its own emotions is like cooling 
5* 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

drink in a desert. You complain because 
I am your senior and a trifle world-worn, 
and you do not know that you are com- 
plaining. You wish we had been born at 
the same minute. Pretty ! poetic ! but in 
plain prose, "I would you were not my 
elder ! " And so would I ; for if I were 
set back those five years, it would give 
me just five years more to hack away at 
my plays. I will not say how your moon- 
ings and mouthings would affect me; 
possibly then I might be caught by such 
pretty sweets. The last question of all : 
Does the world feel immortal pain at its 
heart? Frankly, yes. Nobody can be 
really happy except imbeciles and chil- 
dren ; and not they, if they chance to be 
underfed. But be of good cheer. Only 
women ache all their lives long, every day 
of every year. They are an unintelligent 
lot, not to have learned self-protection. 
They wear their souls outside; and not 
being in the least original, they have not 
yet invented a thoroughly satisfactory 
52 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

coat of mail. For you, belonging to the 
lords of the earth, there will, after a time, 
be immunity. You will break your heart. 
(O, how infinitely wearisome to reflect 
that you have determined to break it 
about me!) Then you will waken to a 
vapid interest in work, discover your own 
nice talent for manipulating words, put 
all your past woes into verse, and by the 
time your reputation is made, you won't 
despise a good cigar and a club dinner. 
Nature has provided you as she has the 
lobster. Never fear; your claws will 
grow, though they may be often nipped. 
It is plain that you are to suffer, but I 
don't very much pity you. Unless you 
take to drink or any other unhygienic 
habit, you are sure to get something out 
of life. If you riddle your nerves, I won't 
answer for you. But, at the present mo- 
ment, one thing must be done. Your 
letters must simply cease to be drenched 
with the night-dew of flimsy sentiment. 
Wring it out, and send them dry. Other- 
53 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

wise you get no answers. Do you hear, 
you gentle barbarian ? 

And I don't like your style overmuch. 
It is n't improving as I hoped. You 
don't want to drag out long, saccharine 
sentences, dripping with sugar as they 
crawl. Tell something ! Let it be real, 
— or let it not be at all. 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



O 



THE irony stamped on those four 
little letters! Real! And my 
whole heart in it, a man's whole heart. 
That means something. But I obey you. 
Last night I dreamed all night long, one 
picture after another. First came this : 
I stood upon a dusty way, and multitudes 
of people were passing. They looked like 
you and like my father, but they were sad. 
They were bowed down, and many of 
them carried great brown bundles on their 
backs, bundles of wood, it seemed to me, 
or withered grass. Then I, too, grew very 
sad and heavy because every one else 

54 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

seemed so ; but suddenly my eye fell on a 
great light, and I wondered that I had not 
seen it before, and that none of them saw 
it. There, in the midst, by the roadside, 
stood the Apollo, warm, rosy, afire with 
life. His mantle was purple touched with 
rose: such color as we see in the east 
before the sun comes, and in the west 
after he is gone. His hair was long, and 
ran down his back in a great tawny river, 
— darker than yours, — and he stretched 
out his arm fearlessly holding the bow. 
Yet no one saw him but me. I fancied, 
even in my dream, that the arrow he 
would shoot might teach them a happier 
way to travel ; but no one even knew he 
was there, or heard the twanging of the 
string or saw the cleaving of the arrow's 
flight. Then I sank down into darkness 
like a gulf, and only rose again to the 
splendor of another dream. The world 
seemed very large, larger than it does 
when you stand on the peak of Lone 
Mountain, with not a shade to cover you. 
55 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

There were many people, in an agony of 
terror and pain, as Pierre was the night 
after I found him wounded and delirious 
from his fight with the bears. The peo- 
ple were old, and poor, and shabby, but 
still they looked like you, and their agony 
was dreadful to behold. They were all 
gazing upward, and I, too, turned my 
eyes to see, and lo ! the heavens were all 
burning and brazen, and I saw that the 
heat was greater than I could endure. 
The sorrow and fear of those about me 
grew more terrible ; they wept and wrung 
their hands, — still like Pierre, when he 
imagined he was again pursued. One 
thought came over me; and it seemed 
to me more awful than anything I saw. 
The trees ! the sweet, faithful trees in 
all their newest green. They would be 
burned too. There would be no more 
sunrise or sunset. This was the last day 
of all, and not only should we burn, but 
so, too, would the little tender leaves. I 
dropped on my face, and kept saying 
56 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

softly — for it seemed as if One heard as 
much as if I cried aloud — " Mighty One, 
save the trees, only save the tree- I 

did not know to whom I spoke, but I 
kept on saying it into the hot earth ; and 
presently I heard a great shout from the 
throats of all the people. I rose slowly 
to my knees, to my feet, and everybody 
was laughing and throwing their arms 
about in joy. Still they were looking 
up, and I looked, too ; and there, in the 
midst of the burning sky, was one little 
cool, clear patch of blue, as large as a 
maple leaf, and it was spreading fast. A 
fresh wind sprang up and blew from the 
west ; and as the blue spread, little white 
clouds arose and danced over it. Even 
before we could get used to so great a 
bliss, the heaven was all blue and fleecy- 
winged, and the happy trees rustled 
greenly. 

Again I dropped adown that darkling 
sea of death in life, and rose up again to 
find myself in a boat, floating, floating, on 
57 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

the wavelike ripples of a larger lake. So 
I knew it was the sea. I was near the 
shore, but yet not going in ; and as I 
turned my eyes that way, I saw a height 
overhung with sky so blue ! I have never 
seen such sky. But beneath and built 
upon the height was something more 
radiant than the sky itself : a temple with 
a wilderness of columns and vistas of 
columned shade within. The temple was 
of marble, mellowed and creamy, and 
rosy also, from some inner light, it seemed 
to me : something that glowed peren- 
nially and generated beauty as it glowed. 
And as I looked, wonder-stricken and 
alive with pure delight, one of the col- 
umns melted into air, and in the larger 
space it gave, stood you, my lady, clothed 
in white falling in folds more wonderful 
than the whorling of a bud within its 
sheath. You held a cup, and reached it 
to me with a smile divinely kind. I rose 
and plunged ; the water closed over me, 
and sleep enwrapped me over. 
58 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

And then again I rose, and I knew I 
was in Paradise ; for it was a sunny for- 
est of newly-budded trees, and I heard 
strange music and knew you would be 
with me soon and that all would be infin- 
itely well with us forever. I sank back 
into measureless peace, the perfect pa- 
tience of waiting. As I lay there, one 
came toward me, and although I could not 
see his face, I knew, this is an angel ! He 
asked me some question, — what, I can- 
not tell ; but I was in love with my pleas- 
ure of mind, and told him what was only 
half true. (You know they were talking 
of truth and lies at the camp the other 
night, and I was puzzled. Now I know 
what it is to tell a half-truth.) But as I 
spoke, the leaves of the trees withered 
and fell, and the birds left their contented 
harmony and began screaming in discord 
The angel was gone, and I knew that 
heaven was destroyed, and I had done it. 
I woke, grasping my arms so tightly with 
either hand that the pressure hurt. I was 
59 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

sobbing for breath. But I was alive, and 
my heaven lay yet before me. 

Have I done well ? Here have I writ- 
ten you page upon page, only to earn a 
letter in return, when I long to fill these 
sheets with hot protestations, with peti- 
tions for your gentle ruth. At first it 
was enough to love you. At first ? for 
the instant of recognizing my royal des- 
tiny; but now I would have all. Love 
me ! love me ! my heart cries and cries, 
for unless you know me for your own, 
what shall hinder me from losing you in 
this whirling progress of the days. You 
will go away ; I heard them talking about 
it this morning. What am I to do then, 
I ask you ? What am I to do ? Mateless, 
solitary, left in the nest I was so long in 
building, while you fly south, the sun 
upon your shining wings. What am I to 
do? 

60 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

YOUR last letter pleased me very Zoe Mont- 
well, all save its note of melancholy. rose t0 

■n • • r r i • t • > Francis 

Byronism is out of fashion. It is n t jj ume 
vendible, or it won't be in a few years, 
mark my words. In the time that is 
coming, men-children will rise up in liter- 
ature and slash and slay and troll out 
hearty songs, born in the childhood of the 
race, and tell us of the love of woman, 
and the joy of martial blows. No more 
splitting of psychological hairs ! The 
reaction is coming, and I thank the gods 
who make for us to mar. Moreover, you 
were hysterical at the end. Reform it 
altogether. No woman of any sense of 
humor was ever won by tears in the man 
who should be fighting for her. Take 
Tristram of Brittany for your model, not 
some laddie who should be in petticoats. 
Else you will never win fair lady. I 
speak generally, for it is understood from 
the start that this specific fair lady is not 
to be won at all. Woo her you may, so 
61 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

you do it amusingly, robustly, with no 
whining like a hungry dog. She has 
little heart for * crumbling the hounds 
their messes/ ' Now to business. I lay 
my commands upon you. A visitor is 
coming to camp : a man. While he is 
here, I shall have no time either to write 
or read, and I shall not visit the hollow 
tree. Moreover, you, as you be loyal and 
true, are to treat him fairly and kindly. 
If you hate my tendance of him as a 
stranger and a guest, you are to be only 
the more courteous. In short, as a knight 
peerless, you are to suffer manfully and 
in silence. For in silence lies the only 
true dignity left us by the chances of life. 
You see I own at once that you will 
suffer. That is inevitable ; but I ask you 
to take the screw like a gentleman. 
There is no better word yet made. 
62 



I 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



AM forbidden to write her. I must To the 



speak to some one, to something. He Lnknorjm 
came three days ago. He is tall, black- 
eyed, with a laugh that rings. When I 
hear that laugh, I cannot even moisten 
my dry tongue. I have learned the 
meaning of hate. Yesterday she ran to 
the spring to bring him a glass of water. 
(He lay lazily and let her.) I followed. 

"Is that the man you said you might 
love ? " I whispered. 

It looked as if the whisper burned her 
cheek. She turned red to the roots of 
her yellow hair. She could not look at 
me. 

" Sir Knight," she said at last, " in the 
world we do not ask such things." 

So I knew. 

As to my manner, I think I have obeyed 
her. At least, I have been silent. But 
if this is to be my portion, death must 
come soon. For all my body is under 
the sway of this great trouble. I cannot 
63 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

eat. My hands seem helpless, they are 
so cold. My throat is choked. When 
have I slept ? I think my father knows, 
and, though I cannot speak to him, un- 
derstands, if a man for whom life is over 
can ever understand one at the beginning. 
Yet how can he ? how can he ? For my 
mother loved him, and gave herself to 
him. There is in all the world no sorrow 
like this of mine. To stand by and see 
another man help her into the boat and 
row away ! To see him pin a flower in 
her hair with those daring hands ! And 
I would have died to do it. Yet last 
night, as I stormed through the forest 
like the north wind that hates the cling- 
ing leaves, blind in the darkness, blind 
from within, — and only through some 
forest instinct keeping myself from crash- 
ing into tree and bush, — a moment of 
calm enwrapped me as quickly as if a 
gossamer veil had fallen from above. I 
seemed to see the meaning of things, the 
true meaning and value. That he should 
64 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

give her a flower, should take her hand, 
should win her smile — nay, the touch of 
her cheek, her lips — words I can scarcely 
write, even here, — what are these perish- 
able gifts ? Gauds of time ! Did some 
poet say that, or have I made the phrase ? 
The foolish broidery on the web of life, 
to wear and wear with years ! But what 
lies behind to engender the token — ah, 
that is the eternal ! I cannot penetrate 
her heart to see the living thoughts that 
thus denote themselves ; but I know my 
own. I challenge time itself to match 
them with a brood more great. My 
love, my faith in her, my sacrifice, these 
are giants, springing into sudden Titanic 
birth, and Homer's heroes are pygmies to 
them. So the night calmed me, and I 
thanked God (did I ever write that word 
before ? Did I ever really think it ?) that 
my soul was born. But in the morning 
the mood had passed. I knew still what 
I had learned, but I could not feel it. 
My father, my dear father ! He sits all 
65 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

day with Homer open on his knee, and does 
not read. Once after the others had been 
here, and he saw me wince when she and 
the man went laughing off together, he 
said to me, almost as if he were afraid to 
say it : — 

" Don't overestimate the little familiar- 
ities of social life." He said it, but I 
could not answer. 



Zoe Mont- T T 7ELL — child ! (You are nothing 
rose to VV more — nothing !) Our guest has 

Hume gone. Now let us hope you will straight- 
way begin to get back your color. You 
look like the travesty of Hope Deferred. 
Dress you for Pierrot, and you 'd serve 
well for the ghost of youthful folly. But 
you have behaved excellently. Socially 
speaking, you have watched beside your 
arms. Consider yourself knighted. Shall 
I tell you a secret ? The Forest of Arden 
is not a proper trysting-place for folk who 
have met in the town ; at least, if one of 
66 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

them has been learning the sweet direct- 
ness of the woods. For I, whom this 
man somewhat enchains and always did, 
— when I saw him among the trees, I 
knew he was very worldly and a trifle 
fat ! And he does not swim well. And 
he slept o' mornings, and I could not help 
thinking of you wandering — albeit like a 
zany whose bauble is hid — in the dewy 
brake. Understand plainly, you are at 
this moment dear to me. The thought 
of you is sweet as Endymion to Diana ; 
yet I who am no Dian, but a poor fin de 
sifole spinster, her being distorted by 
culture, would withdraw from you were 
you here, as the chaste huntress from 
Actaeon. I like you ; but I mean nothing 
by the saying, nothing, nothing ! Nay, 
an I said " I love," it would be but lightly, 
as if we were both in a little play : a play 
which nobody wrote, and no man saw 
acted, and which the actors themselves 
will speedily forget. Think of the thistle- 
downiest thing you ever saw, the most 
67 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

fleeting : the glow that rises in the slm- 
set sky and flees before the sight. That 
is what I mean when I say you are dear 
to me. Do not make me repent having 
said it 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



JUNE was it, June, sweet mistress of the 
changing year, 
(She of the brow serene, unpressed by 
cypress fear, 
Nor darkened under bitter bud and leaf 
By earth's old travail and the gray world's 

grief, — 
Delighted by her changeful diadem 
And fringed with roses round her mantle 

hem,) 
Who laid thy hand in mine, 
And said, with voice divine, 
Like low-toned winds that wander to and fro 
Searching out reedy pipes wherein to blow : 
" This is your sacrament. 
Drink ye, and be content. 
This is life's flowering. 
Now are ye queen and king." 
68 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

O thought too poor and pale ! 
O words that wanly fail 
For godlike Love's divine expressing, 
And all the rhythm of his sweet confess- 
ing, 
Whose full-voiced cry should be 
Harmonious ecstasy. 

Now are ye rulers of the upper air ; 

And though men surge below, not one shall 

dare 
To scale the summit of your mystic height, 
Nor breathe your breath, nor face your burn- 
ing light. 
The seed shall break for you, the seasons 

pass, 
And you, serene, shall view as in a glass 
The moving pageant of the happy year, 
Fleeting from naked twig and garment sere, 
To wrap itself in snows, to dream and dream 
On budding boughs, and all the elusive 

gleam 
Of happy rivers kissed 
By sweet, bewildering mist. 
And so to dream again, and rise in power 
To the full glory of a new birth-hour. 
69 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

The earth is thine, the starry spaces even, 
The hour is thine, and maketh its own 
heaven — 



I to write a marriage song, I ! Shall 
mortal man hymn worthily his own love ? 
Yet here is the initial note, the first faint 
stammering. Remember this, my love, 
my lady, my soul, — if I had known what 
your consent would be, I could never 
have waited for it all these years, here 
in the still woods. I should have died of 
hunger. Think of it ! one only can bring 
bread for me, one only give me to drink. 
Be merciful to me, my bread-giver ! One 
word — not on paper ! One minute — let 
me see you alone ! 



Zoe Mont- T^\0 not write verse until you fail to 

rose to \_J express yourself in prose. Verse 

H^ 15 should glide full-winged over the surface 

of the waters where the spirit of God lies 

sleeping. It should deal carelessly with 

70 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

poor things like prepositions and pro- 
nouns. They are but the spray-bubbles 
beaten back by its wings. Your smaller 
words are staffs falling as regularly and 
heavily as a tread on a board walk. Your 
phrases march ; they do not fly. You 
will say that these lines were written un- 
der a pressure of strong emotion; but 
that 's no reason. So might a prosy di- 
vine put forth his religion as an excuse 
for prosing. Have your emotion, but 
keep it to yourself if you can express it 
no better than this. It is neither " mag- 
niftque" nor is it — literature. Nor does 
your prose entirely please me. Look 
how it is tinged with its own sweetness. 
Everything is superlative. You are not 
content to say a thing in one way ; you 
must say it in three, and then overload 
it with metaphor till the understanding 
balks at it. You write like this : — 

" The night burned clear, illumined by 
a million stars. Memory was with me, 
and love; they, the divine. I was rest- 
71 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

less ; I could not sleep. I came out 
of my chamber, impatient, praying for 
dawn." 

Your images hunt in couples, and it 
won't do, save in the Psalms. Simplicity, 
simplicity ! that must be our aim. That 
makes a sentence read as if it had stood 
immemorially, as if it formed an integral 
part of the Creator's speech when He 
overlooked His work and found it good. 
(You see I fall into your trick of repeated 
images. Indeed, it is one of the queer 
coincidences of fate that our phrasing 
should be much alike.) This same sim- 
plicity it is which shall make Ruskin a 
monument of white, like an angel with 
carven wings, when Sartor Resartus lies 
howling, with none so poor to patch him. 
Ah ! and by the way — very much by 
the way — don't be feverish again. Don't 
take my idle words of last time for more 
than they are worth. I told you they 
meant nothing. When will you believe ? 
72 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

THEIR nothing is my all. You have Francis 
declared it. The words lie in my Hume 
hand. Discourse to a man upon rhet- ° Mo ^ trose 
oric, when your own letter says, "You 
are dear to me " ! We will talk this out. 
We will, I say. If not alone, before 
them all. Come into the woods with me 
to-night at nine, and with only the dark 
for witness you shall swear to me love — 
or denial. 



WAS it a week ago we spoke to- zoe Mont- 
gether there by the rock, and rose to 
have you changed me so ? I told you 
that night I half thought — I was very 
sure — I cared, and then I seemed to lose 
my power of mocking you. Our places 
are changed. You do not know it, but 
I no longer command ; I am beginning, 
the real I that sits within me, to obey. 
Your ways are so sweet, so tender, your 
truth so single, your chivalry so great ! 
73 



Francis 
Hume 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

I am learning to lean on your fair service 
as it were an arm. O, but if I am to 
love you, make me good ! I wish I were 
what you would have me be. I am not ! 
I am not ! How soon will you learn it ? 
They talk about a maiden's mind, a fair 
white page ; mine is all tracked with ugly 
marks. I am blonde, young, pretty, but 
I am haggard and yellow within. Not 
bad, you know, dear ; but not the she 
you should have loved. Full of worldli- 
ness, cynicism, incapacity for being de- 
ceived ; there 's not a spontaneous thing 
about me. Yet, peradventure, my only 
hope is that I see your beauty and love 
it. No more of this, so long as we two 
live. Love me while you can, and be- 
lieve it is my unhappiness that I have 
lived too much. 



Francis TV /T Y LADY, — It was a perverse 
Hume )^l\, moo( i that conceived your letter. 

to Zoe , 

Montrose And if you had no perversity, no pretty 

74 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

whims, where should we all be ? On a 
dead level of discontent. I love the 
sweet humility of it. Not that I would 
have you keep to that; it would never 
befit my sovereign lady. But for an idle 
moment of a summer's day, 't is like fool- 
ing in masquerade. Why, you are queen 
of me, and queen of my great heart ! 
(Aye, I do swear with the biggest oaths I 
know that 't is a great heart ; for otherwise 
were to do you some despite. Did you 
not create it ? " Let there be love," said 
you, and straightway my heart was born.) 
Do people always take it so seriously 
when other people say they are going to 
marry ? What was that unguarded speech 
of Mrs. Montrose's : — 

" Zoe, Zoe, why did n't you let that boy 
alone ? " 

O, I heard it, but I forgive her ! She 
wots not of our kingdom. What should 
a woman with false hair and fat hands 
know about the divine foreknowledge of 
a heart in finding its mate ? And my 
75 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

father ? Why is he sadder every day ? 
He has not lost me. He had gained you ; 
and he owns you are sweet and blithe and 
fair beyond compare. 

Later : What do you think has hap- 
pened ? I am to go back with you, and 
my father himself proposed it ! I could 
wake all the echoes in the hills with joy. 
I shall never walk any more. I shall 
run and dance. What will your world 
think of that, — your world of men and 
women ? Even that my father takes 
it sadly does not move me overmuch, 
though I wish he saw the joy of being. 
(How full it is, O, how full ! And you 
have brought me the cup. I will drink 
carefully, sweetheart, though so greedily. 
I will not spill a drop.) He said to me, 
" You must know something of life be- 
fore you make new ties and take respon- 
sibilities. So you must go out into the 
world. Mrs. Montrose is a good woman. 
She will be your teacher in social walks, 
and she will introduce you to some men 
76 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

I knew long ago. I can't give you defi- 
nite plans. You would n't follow them if 
I did." When I asked him if he would 
go, too, he said, "No, not yet." It was 
best for me to cut loose from him for a 
time. 

So, fine sweetheart ! I am going back 
with you to your city. We are not to be 
separated for a single day : perhaps not 
until the hour when you stand up be- 
fore your people and swear to cleave to 
me only. I read that service yesterday, 
alone in the woods. Gods ! how great it 
is ! and yet not great enough. I would 
not have it "till death." It should cover 
the abyss — and hell. Do you remember 
to think with every breath you draw how 
a man loves you ? how he would fain have 
you his breath, that he might draw you 
into his very veins ? Ah, what words 
are there for the telling ? How poverty- 
stricken are we that there should be no 
way to make you mine save by swearing 
oaths ! If I could give you my blood — 
77 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

but even that is less dear to me than one 
instant in your presence. If I could sac- 
rifice the dearest thing I have — yet that 
would not be life itself ; it would be you. 
Sacrifice you to love, to prove I love you ! 
What wisdom were in that ? 



Zoe Mont- T~VE AR, — Step back before it is too 

rvseto JL7 j at:e Dq nQt come with us Nq 

Hume good lies that way. Why should you leave 
your happy island for the grimy streets ? 
There is strange irony, too, in your set- 
ting off with us, such wayworn travelers. 
So might a spangled troup of weary play- 
ers entice a sleepy child that had only 
known the lambs and birds, and lain on 
fragrant hay, to take some part in their 
ghastly mummery. What should be his 
fate ? footsore, bewildered, to fall beside 
a wayside ditch, and gasp his breath out 
in the dusty fern. Go back ! I '11 none 
of you. I won't take the responsibility 
of your shining soul. Stay here, and 
78 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

write the story of your island. Tell the 
weary old world what the leaves whisper 
and how the flower-buds open. And 
folks will smile the vacuous smile of igno- 
rant criticism, and say, "O, yes, we all 
knew it before ! " Then perhaps your 
Virginia will come, and you may die in 
each other's arms. For you have n't the 
fortunate palm, my boy ; you have n't 
the look of luck. They that make us 
have ordained you to grief, and I would 
for forty shillings that your slaughter 
came not through me. I will go to town. 
You shall send me your manuscripts, I will 
find a publisher, and we will write each 
other letters — so friendly, so friendly — 
and when you die with Virginia I will 
come to the woods and sit by your grave, 
and sing you little songs in remembrance 
of the love that was not to be mine. So 
fare you well ; and I wish you only for- 
getfulness. 

79 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



FAREWELL ! I stop in my packing 
to laugh. I 've begun to sing the 
word, to whistle little tunes to its rhythm. 
Aye, mistress, we will fare well, but we 
fare together ! It has just occurred to 
me that my packing is very queer in- 
deed : violin, gun, my few dearest books, 
and almost no clothes. For my father 
says camp clothes, however new, won't 
wear the air of town, and my tailor must 
be my first friend. Farewell, indeed ! 
Can you toss a bridegroom a two-sylla- 
bled word over your shoulder, and turn 
him back at the door of the church ? 
What is a church like? Is it true the 
aisles are forest vistas ? So the books 
say. O, the great race of men, to have 
put nature into wood and stone ! 
80 



I 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

The Tremont House, Boston. 
AM here, exactly where you told me Francis 
to go, though Mrs. Montrose asked Hume 

. . to Ernest 

me very cordially, again and again, to Hume 
make my home with her. In front of 
the hotel is a noisy, rattling street, full 
of madness, clamor, and delight. (I said 
this to Zoe, and she laughed herself faint. 
"Intoxicated by a Boston street ! " said 
she. "Wait till you see Paris.") At the 
side of the hotel is a yard full of graves, 
with little stones, row upon row. O, so 
many graves ! I realize what multitudes 
of men have died, and how old the world 
must be. I thought of it last night, and 
it bore upon me so, grave upon grave — 
and all the unnumbered dead of all the 
wars — and I rose to look from my win- 
dow into the busy, lighted night, and 
think of men. How they seethe here in 
crowds. How they hurry up and down, 
each in his little world, king of that 
alone, and alien to his brother. It is so 
81 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

strange. I think I should die of loneli- 
ness if I had not brought my own with 
me. But does any one sleep ? There is 
no air ! 

O father, why are you not here ! We 
went to the theatre to see a woman — I 
told you we were going. I never so 
longed for speech. If only I might de- 
scribe her, even half worthily! I send 
you a package of photographs, all I can 
find, but they stammer and halt as I do. 
First, she is tall, very tall, I think, and 
there is in her a strange mingling of an- 
gularity and the divinest grace. She 
seems to have members like another, but 
the most perfect genius and harmony in 
the use of them. Her hand is gracious, 
large; it has not that subtile outline of 
Zoe's, but she uses it as an instrument 
potent for beauty. Her head is not set 
proudly, her shoulders are not like the 
pine-tree, and Mrs. Montrose tells me 
her clothes are wrinkled and sometimes 
frayed at the seams. But her face ! All 
82 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

the Graces strove for mastery, and threw 
their gifts at her in a blind contention, so 
that none of them agree. They simply 
strive together like a company of angels, 
ill-assorted, and give you the effect of a 
lovely surprise. Her brows are full of 
pathos. Between them there is ever a 
little irregular frown ; and her eyes look 
out beneath, imploring, piteous, saying, 
11 1 have lost my way. Will somebody 
tell me where to go ? " And her mouth ! 
O, the merriest mouth, made for joy, 
made for light words and blithest laugh- 
ter ! Her hair is dancing yellow, and 
she herself dances, her spirit most of all. 
I have felt joy, but I never saw it until 
now. Zoe laughs at me, and opens her 
eyes because I have begun to talk of good 
and bad, of beauty and ugliness. She 
says I am too apt. It is true that I have 
done little but study faces since I came. 
Many are like animals. Some I love; 
some I hate at once. I have seen three 
persons who are deformed, with humps 
83 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

on their backs. They have a strange old 
look, with a queer brightness in the eyes ; 
and when I catch that look on those who 
are straight and well, I wonder if they 
are deformed in the soul. But whoever 
else is to be shrunk from, my player-lady 
is all-worthy. As I saw her fleet about 
the stage, buoyant in joy and then mad- 
dened by grief unspeakable, I did not see 
her alone. I caught glimpses of Shake- 
speared women, for she had a trace of 
them all: Portia, full-winged for justice; 
Juliet, passion-doomed; Imogen, your love 
of loves ; but most of all Beatrice, the 
iris-spirit, and Ophelia, piteously undone. 
Then I remembered, "A star danced," 
and hot tears burned my eyes. Father, 
how do we live when we feel so much ? 
And the world, so great, so piercing in 
its beauty — how it presses upon us ! 
Yet I suppose there must be a certain 
habit of inner control; for though it is 
beautiful to Zoe, she does not ache as I 
do. No, she laughs. I must get the 
84 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

habit of laughter. But you see I have 
been up all night, thinking of this woman 
and the world she opens to me; of her 
and the woman I love. Of Zoe I think 
always, father ; but you know I could n't 
write that. No man could, could- he ? 

... I have been to church. It is 
strangely disappointing. Of the church it- 
self it is not necessary to speak. It seems 
there are no great cathedrals here ; I had 
not realized that. The music was fine, 
but faint ; I found I had expected not a 
quartette but a chorus, a multitude prais- 
ing God. Then the clergyman spoke. It 
was very vague and very long. It seemed 
to me unnecessary for him to have writ- 
ten anything, when he might have read 
Emerson or Ruskin. I forgot him, after 
a time, and began to think of Lone Moun- 
tain and the rhythm of the wind over the 
firs. The sermon was something about 
St. John's visions and the church. It 
seemed to me belittling, as if a primer 
should be written to explain the gods. 
85 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

But perhaps I have to get the habit of 
church-going also. 

I have been introduced to dozens of 
people. Dozens? let me say hundreds. 
They are very kind. You ask me to 
speak frankly of civilized life. Frankly 
then, these people we meet in battalions 
I do not like. That is, I might like them 
individually if they appeared under a dif- 
ferent system ; but society seems to me 
an intricate sort of game which anybody 
could play, but which is very puzzling to 
the onlooker and not in the least worth 
learning. For example, their conversa- 
tion : a great deal of it is mere personal- 
ity, and they only speak of a certain set. 
That may be a truism. I have appar- 
ently said that they do not talk of the 
people they do not know because they 
only talk of the people they know. But 
I find there are such different ways of 
talking. People seem to be in groups, and 
each group is labeled. I am in the smart 
set ! I fancy some of them consider the 
86 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

persons who play and sing and write 
books (that is unless they don't do it 
particularly well) as a class of beings 
made for their amusement; and if it is 
necessary to speak of scientists or diplo- 
mats, they do it with a certain languid 
interest, and then put them aside in a 
drawer. There is a great deal of philan- 
thropy, but it is not what I thought about 
love of man, when I read the old stories 
of the saints and those greater than saints 
who came to redeem. It does not look 
like love; for love draws one nearer, 
clasps its arms about one ; is it not so ? 
This is a kind of business appointed for 
certain days in the week, just as one 
attends church on Sunday. They "go 
down " to obscure streets and visit, and 
they even make reports afterwards ; but 
it is something like the German lessons 
three times a week or the piano practice 
every day. But who am I to blame 
them ? I have walked through the poorer 
streets. I have looked boldly into the 
87 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

faces there, and, father, I hate them. I 
would not touch them for worlds, those 
deformed, dirty, ugly, loathsome crea- 
tures. They are so unbeautif ul ! And 
there surely can be no need of that. 
They might at least have the beauty of 
cleanliness and of lovely thoughts. Ap- 
parently I cannot get the habit of phi- 
lanthropy, however well I may do with 
church-going. For how can we help be- 
ing repulsed by what is repulsive? As 
well expect the bees to seek carrion in- 
stead of roses. But what do the books 
mean when they talk about love of men ? 
The more men need love, the less one 
can love them. Write me, father. I feel 
as if I should know a different side of 
you through your letters. 

Later: O, I am glad I came, if only 
for this one thing — a little cat, a little 
mangled cat, gaunt, wounded, dying. I 
killed her — mercifully. 
88 



D 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



EAR FRIEND. — Only a word, to Mrs.Mont- 



Hmmu 



r we lunch and roseu 
tea and dine with the world today. Your 
barbarian is more than perfect He has 

become a social sovereign, sweeping all 
before him ; and he does n't even know 
it. He stands : a circle of pre: 

girls and strenuous spins! '.ooks at 

them gravely with those great so: 
answers their qv. . s .-way 

in absolute unconsciousness. He sa s 
people are so kind. On the contrary, 
they are enraptured with his beauty and 
his miraculous truth-telling. And I begin 
to think Zoe may really be in love with 
him. If nobody interferes with them, 
perhaps they '11 make a model Darby and 
Joan. 



DEAR SOX, — So you don't love the Ermst 
poor ! Well, don't force it. They &—** 
are not invariably beautiful. Don't trou- Hume 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

ble about them until you have found 
out why they haven't Greek profiles, as 
a rule, and why they sometimes fail in 
expressing their lovely thoughts. Why 
did the cat appeal to you ? Yet she 
was n't beautiful. Something had maimed 
her. That might be the case with two- 
legged creatures also. I have been think- 
ing about you a lot. In fact, for the last 
twenty years there has n't been anything 
else for me to think about, except what is 
gone. And that is a chapter by itself. 
But I want to tell you this : if you are in 
a tight place of any sort, moral or finan- 
cial, come to me, and I shall be grateful. 
I 'm older, and I have lived in the world. 
I don't want to be a prig and hamper you 
with moral maxims ; but if you need me, 
I want to be there. Moreover, I want 
you to grapple alone with life. That's 
the only way. To catch systematically 
at another swimmer is to weaken your- 
self and perhaps go down, — as I did, 
though not for the same reason. I went 
90 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

down because I never was a strong swim- 
mer in the beginning, and then I did n't 
go in for training. Enough of metaphor. 
I Ve a sort of legacy, though, to give you. 
I was thinking last night what a shame 
it is that we never have a fair show with 
temptation, because a temptation is a 
thing that 's never recognized until you 
see its back : like the hill-wives. But 
this you may remember; if something 
seems particularly enticing to you, and 
you say, "It wouldn't do for all the 
world to take this, but it will do for me," 
draw back. That is mirage. If you begin 
to shield yourself behind what the great 
souls have done, that, too, is mirage. The 
great souls are never so little as in for- 
saking law for license. Do not despise 
what convention has decreed, unless you 
know it to be trivial and false. The gen- 
eral consensus of mankind really means 
something. A hot-headed and hot-hearted 
youngling in revolt against harness is 
pretty sure to get a galled back — and 
9* 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

nothing else. Pin yourself to law ; only 
make sure that the law is the highest 
possible. So much for Polonius. Now, 
your legacy; and now I have to write 
things almost too sacred to be written, 
and that never could be said. I have al- 
ways talked to you about your mother, 
because you have a right to know her ; 
but her loss is so fresh, that every word 
still hurts. She was probably the most 
rounded, the purest, the most crystalline 
nature ever made. Her perfection could 
never have been exceeded. Perhaps Imo- 
gen only was her equal. Have you ever 
thought what it must have been to such 
a woman to conceive and bear a child ? 
She loved me. Our life was as perfect 
as her desert. Now I know the thoughts 
— all she could tell even me — of that 
girl-mother every day of all the weeks be- 
fore your birth. There is no word — at 
least from me — fine enough to describe 
the course of that holy rapture. There 
is in a woman's love a certain joy in the 
92 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

pain which is borne for love's sake, a 
certain ecstasy of renunciation which no 
man ever feels. That once I saw it 
pictured. I veil my face. She was not 
only divinely happy because you were 
coming ; she became divinely holy. Her 
child seemed to be a sacrifice to present 
to God, — her God was very living, very 
near her, — and she had resolved that he 
should be a perfect gift. She heard the 
most beautiful music, and clothed herself 
in the finest fabrics. She had her room 
hung with angelic faces, where her eyes 
could open first upon them in the morn- 
ing. Those are the pictures that hang in 
our cabin. I could never tell you why I 
chose them. Mona Lisa was banished, 
though she loved her, too. But she said, 
"He shall have the simplicity of God; 
he shall not bear the beauty of the 
world.' ' She read the most wonderful 
books then, the simplest, the most ex- 
alted. I have tried to remember her 
choice among them, and it seems to me 
93 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

now that she chose always what had the 
wisdom of truth and love, and that she 
shrank from the sparkling and clever. I 
cannot tell you all her thoughts about 
you, nor all her hopes. For, indeed, the 
confidences were mine, and near as you 
are to me, she is nearer. Perhaps I could 
never have told you if you had not be- 
gun to see what it is to love a woman. 
But the substance of it all seems to be 
this : she loved you before she saw you ; 
she worshiped the very thought of your 
coming. She seemed to feel that she 
was not a passive instrument chosen to 
bring you into the world. (You see I 
speak personally now of the Unknowable. 
It is because she did so. To her, all the 
powers that fashion and rule were blended 
in One, and He was warm and living, and 
she loved Him. Yet her idea was not 
anthropomorphic. It was colossal. This 
was and is incomprehensible to me ; but 
I am trying now to enter her habit of 
mind.) A passive instrument, did I 
94 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

write ? She was, in a way, your creator. 
The vital spark came from her God 
through love and her, and she would not 
hamper it by any earthly clogs of grovel- 
ing inheritance. Well — her watching 
upon her arms was over. She saw her 
son. And then she gave him to me to 
finish her work, and died. Now the 
knowledge of her great love and expecta- 
tion seems to belong to you, and I have 
only this to say : If you feel yourself 
getting a little dusty in life, think what 
should be expected of one who was so 
loved, so waited for. You are of royal 
stock ; for you were born of a woman so 
perfect that sometimes I wonder now if 
I have not imagined her. But I have not. 
She was real. We do not guess out 
things so beautiful. God — It — Nature 
— makes them, and then we describe 
them in verse or music, and people say 
we create. Don't speak to me of this ; 
only make use of it when the time comes. 
There is n't much to tell you about 
95 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

camp. I do many of the same old things. 
Perhaps I shall go to you ; for sometimes 
I think you will not want to come back. 
Pierre misses you. 



To the T HATE vulgarity! Mrs. Montrose 
JL seems to be a very good woman, but 



Unknown 
Friend 



she is vulgar. Why, when women are 
middle-aged and portly, do they feel at 
liberty to make rude personal speeches ? 
She said to me yesterday : — 

" If you want to marry Zoe, marry her 
soon." I was angry ; I could only look 
at her. She laughed, but she did flush. 
" Don't glare at me, Ingomar," said she. 
" I 'm speaking for your good. It is n't 
well for you to marry her, but somehow 
you 're the kind of a child I want to see 
pleased. So keep on the spot. Captain 
Morton has come back, and he knows Zoe 
has had some money left her. Be on the 
spot ! " I walked away without a word. 
Since then I have hardly seen Zoe. It 
96 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

is insulting to go near her. As if I did 
not trust her ! As if I would be " on the 
spot ! " 



I CAN'T wait to tell you ! so this Zoe Mont- 
goes round to you by messenger. You rose t0 
could n't guess it out in a lifetime. I £™^ 
am rich, truly rich ! Uncle Obed has 
died. He was a miser, God bless him ! 
and he 's left it all to me. Did you ever 
hear of anything so absurd ? Now I can 
buy myself elegant leisure, as if it were 
something to be found at the shops. I 
can give myself time to write my plays. 
I can even bring them out. Of course, 
though I lead the horse to water I can't 
make him drink; and though I were 
Midas I can't force the public to listen. 
Stay ! is it impossible ? Go to ! there 
shall be souvenir nights, and the news- 
papers shall be fully primed. Actresses 
shall pose as injured wives, and scandals 
shall be described in flaming headlines. 
97 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

All print is open to us. We are rich, 
rich ! I 'm quite delirious with it. 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



LOVE, — You bewilder me. I did n't 
know you cared. Money ? I did n't 
know you wanted it. I believe we have 
a great deal. My father told me I need 
not stint. Don't use yours. Please don't 
use it. Marry me to-morrow, and take 
mine. 



Zoe Mont- 
rose to 
Francis 
Hume 



DON'T use it ? Why, I want to use 
it ! You might as well ask a new- 
crowned king to go and make a visit in 
central Africa, and pick up all the gold 
he could carry. Be patient. I '11 come 
to Africa by and by. But just now I 
want to take mine ease in the opulence 
of my mind. I 'm having a new dress 
made of a queer dull green and blue, and 
I '11 buy a set of turquoises, God wot, 
and present them to myself from my 
98 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

dearest friend. Uncle Obed lived and 
died in South America. I won't wear 
mourning — I won't ! I won't ! Perhaps 
green and blue are mourning there. 



DEAREST LADY, — Will you write Francis 
me — just a word, only a word? Hume 
You see I could not get a whisper from Montrose 
you last night, and you were so brilliant 
and sparkling, like a shining gem. Call 
me a baby, if you like. I don't mind 
Only say you love me. Just the three 
words, dear? And will you take these 
little blue stones ? I can see how they 
would look against your skin ; I held 
them near a pinkish rose, and then I saw 
you in my mind and I threw the rose 
aside. Dear, the three words ? I feel 
very humble, very much of a beggar. 
Will you? 

99 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



Zoe Mont- 
rose to 
Francis 
Hume 



NOW you are not sleeping, as I said 
when I saw the hollows coming 
under your eyes, or you would n't fail in 
tact. It is n't like you. I want to buy 
my turquoises myself. Don't you see 
how I am luxuriating in the sense of un- 
familiar power ? It will pass, and then 
I '11 take your gift. Of course — the 
three words — of course ; but I can't be 
always writing them. They look so ba- 
thetic. Now I 've seemed brutal and ill- 
tempered, all in one letter. But why will 
you be faultless and appealing, and why 
won't you see I am a child of the earth 
(the street-earth — paving-stones ground 
up and mixed with champagne) and go 
home to your birds and trees ? 



Zoe Mont- "X/DU were not interesting last night, 
X and Captain Morton was ; there- 
fore I sat out with him. But you should 
not have turned white and frozen in a 

IOO 



Francis 
Hume 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

corner. That sort of docile remonstrance 
in you rouses my aunt to a height of 
righteousness which nature itself cannot 
endure. I mean my nature. She says 
you are perfection, and that I don't de- 
serve you. The maxims are unimpeach- 
able ; I agree to both. Go, if you like, 
or stay and be agreeable. I forgot to 
tell you that I am going to New York to 
visit Alice May, Captain Morton's cousin. 
Auntie is angry. Are you angry, too ? 
Is all the world suspicious, and of Othel- 
lo's complexion ? If the primitive pas- 
sions do rage just as furiously even 
though we speak Victorian English, tell 
me, what 's the use of development ? We 
are simply more trammeled and less 
frank. Having blown off the steam of 
my wrath, I '11 condescend to say that 
the invitation from Alice just reached 
me, and that I have decided quite sud- 
denly. Again, does it make you angry? 
Would you rather have me fettered to 
your wrist by a nice, neat little chain with 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

your monogram on it and a jeweled pad- 
lock? 



Francis 
Hume 
to Zoe 
Montrose 



ANGRY because you are going away ? 
My lady, heart of me, you know me 
better. You are free from everything 
but my love. It follows you everywhere, 
poor pensioner. It has nothing to claim, 
nothing to exact. Give it place in your 
suite, and be patient with it ; for it would 
hide away rather than break in upon your 
mood. All your moods are like crystal 
bubbles, no more to be shivered than one 
of God's beautiful worlds. I love you ; 
but you are infinitely sacred, infinitely 
precious to me, — above all, and above 
measure, free. Go, dearest lady ; be 
happy. Think of me when the thought 
is an added pleasure, and then — come 
back to me. 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



DEAR, — O, at moments like this Zoe Monu 
I feel as if I could repay you so roset ° 
royally! You are a knight peerless. Hume 
Remember, whatever comes between us, 
that I knew this of you. I shall always 
think of you with reverence. If you 
were here, perhaps I should be perverse 
and willful, and prick your offered hand 
with some tempestuous thorn ; but I do 
meet you with one half my soul — per- 
haps with all my real soul. I send you a 
kiss. Come to the station if you like ; 
but it will be to see the outer me, the 
worldly one. 



SHE is gone. There is nothing to do To the 
for a week — a month, perhaps — Unknown 
but prowl about this dismal city, looking 
in the faces of men. At the theatres 
there is heavy comedy played by buffoons. 
So I stay away and watch my kind, and 
wonder what I 'm going to do to make a 
103 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

man of myself. Write ? What ? World- 
fuls of thought are creating themselves 
within me, but as yet they are only star- 
dust. I doubt if they will be anything 
more. There is a strange ache in my 
throat, a strange failing within me. Is 
it what children call homesickness? I 
heard little Ethel Wynne, the other day, 
talking about her first visit from home : 

" They put me to bed, and I cried and 
cried all alone, and I was sick at my 
stomach, and I pitied me." 

"Poor Mother Bunch !" said her fa- 
ther. " Homesick ! " 

And I believe I "pity me," too. I 
must be a weak sort of a fellow. All the 
men I meet are absorbed in something — 
horse — college — games. I am sick 
for the unknown. Not the camp. I be- 
lieve the loneliness there would kill me 
now. O, why talk of it, for the sole 
use of spending myself on paper ! I am 
sick for her — her! Heavens — what- 
ever that means — how terrible it is to 
104 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

love a woman ! Yet it seems so simple. 
If she loved me — oh, she does love me, 
but she has her moods. She is compact 
of fire and air and dew, and her path is 
like the swallow's. How should I find 
her? 



i 



AM taking violin lessons, as you sug- Francis 
gest ; also French. The verdict, in Hume t0 
each case, is that I have been wonder- Hume 
fully well taught. I begin to know you 
for a genius. How have you managed to 
do so many things to perfection? The 
Frenchman, Dr. Pascal, is stirring my 
brain more than anything has yet suc- 
ceeded in doing. So far I have felt like 
a muddy pool in which the stars and gas 
lamps try to reflect themselves and get 
only broken gleams in return. He is 
unsparingly critical of our American 
civilization, and feels at liberty to say 
so to me, because I am primeval man, 
fresh from my woods. He tells me such 
105 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

marvels of the French. According to 
him, they are the creators of form : form 
in art, in language, in mechanism. If I 
could reproduce his thought, it would be 
to tell you that, as we are the youngest 
of nations, so, too, are we the crudest. 
We are eaten up by an infinite compla- 
cency. Because we are big, we fancy we 
blot out the sun whenever we choose to 
turn our bulk. We submit to a thousand 
public abuses because we are too drenched 
in our own fatness to criticise or disturb 
ourselves. The individual is rampant, 
and all are enslaved. Consequently, this 
is not the land of liberty, but of license, 
overrun by a wild chase of "every man 
for himself.' ' We worship our wealth, 
and not what it brings us. We adore dis- 
play ; it tickles us more to scatter money 
broadcast in blazonry than to live in 
chaste democracy and erect monuments 
to our public good. To beauty we are 
almost totally blind and deaf; and what 
wonder, when there is no milieu ! We 
106 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

do not breathe an aesthetic atmosphere. 
Our public buildings are atrocious, and — 
and — I could go on for pages, but I 
spare you. The worst of it is that it may 
be true. You know how much my opin- 
ion is worth. I might as well be a boy 
of ten for all I can say, judged by expe- 
rience and comparison ; but to me every- 
thing in this city is small, disappoint- 
ing, unbeautiful. Nothing, except the 
music, fills my ideal of what I thought life 
would be when I pictured it in my tent. 
Is life small ? Are men pygmies ? Or 
are my judgments naught ? 



YOU are right in distrusting your Ernest 
judgments. I should not trust Hume *° 
them, either, because, as you say, you Hume 
have no standard of comparison. But I 
think this may truly be said. America 
is young, and therefore you must not 
expect of her a full artistic development. 
She has done some of the greatest moral 
107 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

work imaginable. There her instinct was 
unspoiled, just as that of youth should 
be. She came "trailing clouds of glory." 
But art is not the flower of the moment. 
Neither is it to be borrowed from other 
lands ; though thus may we obtain the 
technique which teaches appreciation. 
A few geniuses seem to be born full- 
fledged ; I doubt if a nation could be. 
A man, even a genius, has to learn to use 
his tools. So does a people. The French 
are form-mad. I don't wonder. Outer 
beauty is a subtile poison. Once taste it 
and you never lose the craving. It is a 
beautiful zeal, but not always the best 
zeal. I 've been a coward and an absentee 
about life myself, but I'd rather trust 
some of those vigorous old pirates like 
Sir Francis Drake, who went about pick- 
ing up new worlds like huckleberries, 
than a carpet-knight on tiptoe at the apex 
of civilization. But don't misunderstand 
me. My pen ran away. I don't under- 
value your Frenchman. I only say, Be 
108 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

patient with America. She is so young, 
poor girl ! The only discouraging thing 
about it is, as he says, that she does n't 
know it. If she would learn of her 
grandams and great-aunts, she would burn 
her fingers and tear her frock less often. 
Her lovers must simply be patient and 
wait till she grows to her task. Perhaps 
when she really is older and stronger, and 
has lifted her straw a day, she '11 be capa- 
ble of carrying this burden of government. 
No, she has n't solved her problem yet ; 
democracy is the highest form of govern- 
ment, but she does not yet know how to 
administer it. I find I am not so far out 
of gear with civilization as I thought, for 
I have strong ambitions for you. I find 
I want you to take up the fardel of public 
life ; not to be a pessimistic complainer, 
standing aside with your hands in your 
pockets, but a citizen. And if you can 
do something, too, for art — but after all, 
I shall be content if you keep your soul 
clean. 

109 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



Zoe Mont- 
rose to 
Francis 
Hume 



DEAR LADDIE, — I have a great 
deal to say to you, and I am ut- 
terly incapable of saying it. So the only 
resource I have is to be short and trust 
to your intuitions. You can supply my 
remorse, and my grief that life is what it 
is. We are blind instruments of blinder 
fate. Captain Morton came here soon 
after I did. You knew that. He says 
plainly that he came to see me. More 
than that, he came to see me because he 
loved me. If there is anything in love, 
is n't it this power of one creature over 
another ? Are we responsible ? Are we 
true to ourselves if we fight against it ? 
I, at least, could not fight. If my bond 
to you had been a thousand times more 
strong, I should have snapped it like 
twine. I told him I would write you 
that it is broken. I wish life might be 
good to you, though I cannot be. And 
I wish I might never see you again, now, 
or after my marriage. I don't say, For- 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

give me. You can't yet, but some time 
perhaps you will. 



DEAR LADY, — Since your letter Francis 
reached me, I have written you a Hume 
great many answers. None of them are Monirose 
worth sending. This is all I tried to say. 
You are just as much loved as before, 
and you are free, — perfectly, entirely 
free. It must be for you exactly as if 
you had never been bound. And you 
shall never see me. 



THERE must be some outlet for To the 
this, or I shall be talking to peo- Unknown 
pie in the street. They will think I am 
crazy, and that will be the end of it. So 
I'll put it all down, madness and all. 
So Francis Hume came up to town, did 
he ? And lost his love ! He was well 
enough, poor fool, down in the woods; 
but the Great Ones that plague us for 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

their sport sent him a mirage, and it daz- 
zled him, and he sailed after it. No ! 
no ! no ! It was not mirage. It was 
true — a true, true vision. She is real, 
and sweet, and sound, my lady with the 
merry laugh and seeking eyes. I had 
her ; I have the vision of her. I wish I 
did not remember such piercing lines : 
" My good days are over ! " And poor 
Thekla, — 

" Ich habe gelebt tmd geliebet." 

Here 's a supposition. Is a woman 
betrayed more lost than a man's soul 
when it is rejected and thrown back to 
live alone ? Perhaps there is a difference. 
But this lonesomeness of the heart ! If 
I died, should I still live and be I, bear- 
ing my wormwood with me ? A life shat- 
tered so early ! " You have broken my 
globe ! you have broken my globe ! " 

They have come back to Boston, he 
and she. They came together, and I 
saw them. I watched him go up the 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

steps with her, and heard him laugh 
when they went in. I sat on a seat in 
the mall, and watched. He wears a 
strange significance for me. I suppose 
I hate him, really ; and yet, because she 
loves him, he holds a new and awful in- 
terest. It is really as if / loved him. I 
think of him with her thoughts ; how 
strong he is, how black those eyes, how 
white his hands, how round his voice. 
And every thought poisons me, and I roll 
in my nettles and sting myself deeper. 

... I loved a woman — O God ! be- 
trayed ! betrayed ! Not by her. O God, 
save her from punishment and remorse ! 
She was deceived. She shall not suffer. 

... I do not know what God is. I 
sat thinking of Him an hour in the dark, 
last night. All I know is that mankind 
has made Him. He is the cry raised by 
their united voices when they wail. He 
is the uttermost anguish of their hearts. 
They had to call it something, this wail 
of terror and grief, and so they called it 
"3 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

God. I call it God, too. I lift up my 
voice with theirs, and cry, God ! God ! 

... I have taken to following them 
about the town. They went to the thea- 
tre last night. I sat in the gallery, and 
looked down on them. How familiar she 
seems — how truly mine ! Can anybody 
steal what is mine ? After the theatre I 
slept a little, and dreamed that we were 
on a shore, a silver strip of sands, with 
the sea black before us. I dragged her 
from him, and when I had struck him 
down, she turned to me, with a glad, low 
cry, and clung to me, all warm. She was 
glad ! And I have been warm about the 
heart all day, for the remembrance dwells 
with me. How beautiful it would be to 
kill him, if after it was all over she would 
turn to me and rest here in my arms ! 

Once I could have lived through this. 
There would have been horse and hound 
and battle-axe — sword and lance — all 
the rest of it. I could have gone away 
to the wars and worked off some of this 
114 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

horror. And now, like a rat in a trap, 
I 've got to sit still here and go mad. 



D 



EAR FRIEND, — We have made Mrs.Mont- 



a wretched botch of it among us, rose t0 
with your poor boy. Zoe has jilted him. x™ e 
We might have guessed it. He has sim- 
ply disappeared. He left a card here, 
and quietly changed his lodgings. At 
the Tremont House, they either don't 
know where he has gone or refuse to 
say. I am worried about him. Poor 
boy ! poor boy ! he won love everywhere, 
but he did n't want it. Only hers ; and 
Captain Morton could have conjured her 
into a black cat any time these three 
years, if he had chosen. Don't blame 
me. There 's a fate in things ; and if you 
wanted your boy to escape tragedy, you 
should n't have given him that face. 
"5 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 



Ernest T"VEAR BOY, — Could you come down 

Hume to \J ^ ^ me & bit ? j , m j^. a 

Francis , ° 

-#«/»<? series of colds, and they keep me in bed 
and make me melancholy-stupid. Then, 
when you go back, perhaps I can go with 
you. Where are you now ? From your 
giving the address of a post-office box, I 
fancy you have left the Tremont House. 
When will you come ? 



Francis TT\EAR FATHER, — I will come 

Hume to ±J soon# J can > t q^g y et< J am 

Hume sorr y y ou are not we U« I will come soon. 



To the nr^HE voices of people about me do 

Unknown ± hurt me SQ j ^^ gee a SQul j 
Friend 

know, but the waiters asking for orders 
— O, they hurt me so ! I shall be like 
a woman, and scream. I can't see my 
father yet — not yet. I could n't bear 
his face, or his voice. They would be 
116 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

so kind. I must be alone. Yet it is 
awful for crazy people to be alone. They 
are so beset by dreams — and faces. I 
don't think they are real, but still there 
are faces. 

. . . My God ! what have I seen to- 
day ! I went walking — fast, fast — and 
I took the poorest streets, so that I might 
not meet any one I know. And all the 
animal-people — hog, rabbit, fox, cat, and 
the rest — kept coming toward me as I 
walked ; for now there seems to be a sort 
of mist in the air, and one face flares 
out of the mist and then another. And 
it rushed over me suddenly how they 
must ache and suffer and languish to be 
so poor and so ignorant and vile. There 
is a dropping inside my heart, all the 
time, as if the blood that ought to nour- 
ish me were falling and falling and wast- 
ing itself in pain. And I began to look 
into the faces, and it seemed to me as 
if these people, too, were all of them 
bleeding. The ground was red artd 
117 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

soaked. And then I learned that all this 
great world is in pain just like my own. 
I did not seem so much alone then — 
not quite. They were like me, all of 
them. I began to see how some might 
love them ; and the more hideous they 
were, so much the more could one love. 
Who was yesus Christ ? 

... I went to the Passion Music, and 
sat alone in a little crowded corner, afraid 
of being seen. It crucified my soul. I 
felt as if the violins were bowing on my 
brain, sawing the little gray strings that 
are my nerves. And then it came upon 
me like an overwhelming sea. This Man 
— this God-man — loved the whole world 
and was rejected by it. I loved one; 
and because she cast me off, I am as I 
am. True or not — His story — but is 
it true ? 

. . . Yet I cannot stop loving her. I 
love her to-day more, more, a thousand 
times more, if that can be. Is it true I 
have no right to love her ? Then I have 

118 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

no right to breathe. I had no right to be 
born. 



DEAR FRANCIS, — Won't you Ernest 
come down for a day or two ? If Hume to 
not, I think I shall go to you. Write me ** w ** 

Hume 

a word. 



DEAR FATHER, — Try to be pa- Francis 
tient with me. I '11 come soon, Hume to 
truly soon. I 'm not very good com- 
pany. I 'm thinking things out. 



Ernest 
Hume 



Concord, N. H. 
ERNEST HUME sick here with Tde £ ram 

to Francis 

pneumonia. Come. Hume 



Morton 



I AM glad you got off so well, and Mrs.Mont- 
that the sun shone at last. Ever so ™ etoZoe 
many presents have come since you left. 
Mrs. Badger sends a Turkish rug, hid- 
119 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

eous, I think, and abominably dirty. I 
smelled cholera, and in five minutes sent 
the thing to be cleansed. Cousin Robert, 
in his usual forethoughtful way, brought 
a silver service, unmarked, so that you can 
exchange it if you like. Do you read 
the papers ? Do you know about Fran- 
cis Hume ? I found out casually from 
Bellamy Winthrop, who chanced to go up 
with him in the train. Bellamy is a fer- 
ret ; that you know. He could get news 
out of a stone — or Francis. It seems 
Mr. Hume was very ill, started to come 
down here, was taken worse in a Con- 
cord hotel, and died there before Francis 
could reach him. The boy took his body 
and carried it to that awful camp for 
burial. I desire never to set eyes on 
the place again. I wrote to him, but he 
does n't answer. Good luck to you both. 
Regards to Captain Morton. I suppose 
I am to call him Ned ? What with the 
wedding and this last nightmare, my 
nerves are quite unstrung. 

120 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

FRANCIS HUME had gone back. 
It was the spring now, and a visit 
to the spot at that same time last year 
reminded me that the grass would have 
been thick and tall before the door, and 
that the linden was in bloom. I had found 
old Pierre in the village, and asked him to 
row me over ; but though his arms were 
still like whipcords, he declined. He 
seemed to think the visit an intrusion 
upon the two who had evidently made 
something as holy and unapproachable in 
his own life as the legends of his saints. 
On the other hand, he was jealously un- 
willing to trust me there alone ; and 
when I found another man to row me, 
Pierre came of his own will and took a 
place in the boat. The day was a heaven 
of May, the lake untouched. Our oars 
made its only ripple. It was a strange, 
still progress. Pierre, dark, silent, a man 
of thought and experience, brooded all 
the way, as over vanished things ; and 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

the other man evidently held him in too 
much awe to speak. They landed me 
without a word. I walked about the spot 
where the log-cabin had stood, now a 
blank in the vegetation. I lingered by 
the Point, to catch the little ripples there ; 
and I visited the spring where the two 
men used to drink. Pierre had followed 
me, with the cat-like tread of the woods. 
He touched my sleeve, and pointed 
through a forest path. 

" There/' he said. " That is the grave." 
I understood. Ernest Hume had been 
buried there. I walked in a few steps, 
and Pierre pointed. A forest of maiden- 
hair strove and fluttered greenly. This 
was the grave. There was no stone to 
mark it ; but at that moment it seemed 
to me very rich in peace to lie down so 
and to be absorbed into the life of the 
forest, throwing back no foolish outcry, 
" Here I lie ! Remember." 

When Pierre found that I was going 
back without disturbing even a leaf of 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

his shrine, his heart opened a little to 
me, and he told me a few facts of the 
buriaL Francis Hume had brought back 
his father's body, and they two had dug 
the grave and laid him within it. Francis 
had never spoken. He looked like the 
dead. He had no mind. Pierre repeated 
it : he had no mind. 

I could understand. He was beside 
himself. His soul had been reft away 
into merciful dulness, somewhere outside 
his body. When the burial was over, 
Francis had dismissed him and walked 
away into the woods. Pierre followed, 
silently. All that day they walked, Fran- 
cis unconscious that he was not alone. 
Then Pierre began to realize that they 
were going in a great circle, and that 
they were coming back to the grave. 
Night fell, and they were still walking, 
now away from the grave again, but al- 
ways in a circle. The moon came out, 
and Pierre, very hungry, yet not daring 
to lose sight of Francis, approached him 
I2 3 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

and tried to speak ; the boy's eyes were 
wide open, unwinking, luminous. Pierre 
began to talk of food, and Francis struck 
out at him, and walked on. Pierre fol- 
lowed. They continued still in the same 
dull circle, all night long, Francis walk- 
ing like a cat undeterred by branches 
and avoiding pitfalls with the cleverness 
of the insane, and the guide, wearied and 
stumbling. Just as the latter darkness of 
night came on, Francis paused, wavered 
a little, and Pierre caught him as he fell. 
He drew him upon his shoulder, and 
toiled back to camp with him. There he 
laid him upon a couch in the cabin, and 
poured brandy between his lips. All that 
day the boy slept, only stirring when 
Pierre roused him to administer milk or 
brandy ; but at twilight time he moved 
and opened his eyes. Pierre knew he had 
"come back." Then the old man placed 
bread and meat beside him and went 
silently out. He had much experience, 
I judged, of the dignity of the soul; 
124 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

much knowledge, gained from lonely liv- 
ing, of her needs. He knew when she 
must be alone. Yet he watched all night 
in the grove, his quick ears strained for a 
movement of the creature within. What 
came next, Francis Hume only can tell. 



IT is two o'clock in the morning, and 
I am writing here in the cabin door- 
way. I have no light, yet I can see what 
I am writing. That, I remember, is not 
what ordinarily happens ; but it seems 
quite natural. I must write in haste, for, 
as I judge, I have been crazy, and now I 
am sane ; and I must put down something 
to remember, lest madness should come 
on again. I must have something to 
hold to, if I am to fall back into the great 
confusion and trouble of mind that have 
been sweeping me down like a sea. For 
I have learned something. It is most 
precious, and I must be sure to keep it. 
There is no doubt that I have killed my 
125 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

father. I was not by to tend him. When 
his soul was going forth, I let it go alone. 
I brought upon him the sharpest pangs 
of his mortality. But even that is well. 
Can I write what has befallen me, to re- 
call it to my later mind when the vision 
has faded, as it may ? I cling to it. I 
must try. First, I went down into hell. 
I do not know much about that. It is 
confused. And hell is not very impor- 
tant. We dig it for ourselves. Let me 
remember only the things of God. Then 
I awoke, and Pierre was feeding me. He 
went out, and I saw the twilight shaft of 
light strike across the cabin where it 
used to fall. But I knew everything was 
changed. The cabin was not real. Only 
I was real — and Pierre. My soul — was 
it my soul ? — went out of the cabin, and 
swept across Lone Mountain to the sea, 
and over the sea and back again. She 
saw the great earth swing in space. She 
knew there are many worlds beside. 
She felt an awe of the vastness of things, 
126 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

and she began to be healed. Then she 
came back to me, and I took her in, like 
a dove with dew upon her wings, and she 
comforted me. Me? Was it she who 
went, or I ? What is she ? I do not know. 
But I was comforted. Then, as I lay- 
there, vision after vision began to throng 
upon me, and the cabin walls lifted up, 
and let me see the world. And I looked 
upon the great balances wherein we are 
held, and millions of souls, uncounted 
souls, in myriads, like little points of 
light, fleeing home to God. That was it 
— God. That was what I had sinned 
and suffered for, to know Him. I saw 
the souls going toward Him, and an inef- 
fable delight took hold on me because I 
felt that I was going, too ; not my body, 
not even the Me that stayed in the 
cabin, though every impulse of me was 
^tending fast that way. I knew a flow- 
er's feeling when its fragrance meets the 
sun. This was love ; and immediately I 
understood everything that it was neces- 
127 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

sary for me to understand. I compre- 
hended His perfect well-wishing toward 
us. I knew one blood ran from His heart 
through ours. I knew how small a thing 
it is to say "/suffer." I ? What is I ? 
A mote in the whole, an aching nerve in 
one great plexus. And the whole will 
some day be nourished, and we shall be 
healed I do not know whether I can 
believe this when I read it by day ; but 
the cabin is thronged with — radiances. 
I have not learned what to call them, 
but they are infinitely beautiful, patient, 
strong, and they uphold me. I cannot 
think they suffer with me ; their wisdom 
is too great. But they crowd about me 
silently, forbearingly, divinely. They are 
incarnate love. I stretch out my hands 
to them. While they stay, I am almost 
happy. I do not see them, yet they shed 
a lustre and the soul perceives it. I have 
learned — what have I learned ? Obedi- 
ence. I must not strive nor cry. I must 
serve. What? I do not know. But I 
128 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

must serve, even in the dark and en- 
chained. I am content to grope, with 
my eyes bandaged. Content ? No, this 
is joy. I have tasted God. I drink no 
other spring. 

I have read this over. It is all wrong, 
all poor and pale ; I have told nothing. 
Yet the visions — they are in my soul. 
I throw my arms about them and hold 
them fast. Perhaps even they must be 
withdrawn. Perhaps it is a part of my 
service to lose my way. Even that I ac- 
cept. I reach my hand for the cup — 
thirstily. I drink, and to the Unknown 
God. What is He ? I am contented not 
to know. What am I ? It is His will I 
should not know. Only this : the soul is 
perfect, indestructible, and she goes to 
lave herself in Him. 



THE next morning, said Pierre, Fran- 
cis made swift preparations for go- 
ing away. They were few, for he wished 
129 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

to retain nothing belonging to his former 
life. He took last long looks about the 
walls, he studied the pictures as if he 
would learn them by heart, and laid his 
hand upon one and another of the things 
that had been dear to him. Then he 
touched fire to the building, and stood by 
outside, waiting while it burned. Pierre 
very plainly understood why he did it, 
though he could not tell. He seemed to 
distrust the quality of my intelligence be- 
cause I asked primitive questions. Was 
it because Francis feared marauders ? 
Was it some idea of sacrifice to his father's 
memory ? Was it because he felt himself 
unworthy to retain the precious surround- 
ings of a life to which he had been false ? 
As I became insistent, Pierre grew dumb. 
The cabin burned, he said. Francis 
watched it. Then he went away. He 
never came back. 

In the old man's countenance I fancied 
I could trace, under a veiling patience, 
the lines of an immortal grief. Francis, 
130 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

I could understand, had been the child of 
his heart, his one human love. It had 
taken all the great austerity of the forest 
to teach him to bear that loss. Yet you 
could see from his face, as in the faces of 
so many who suffer with dignity, that he 
was not destitute of hope. 

It has been surprisingly difficult to fol- 
low the after-track of Francis Hume. 
For those who knew him have only to 
say that he disappeared. But he disap- 
peared merely by settling down at their 
own door : the back-door where carriages 
never come. He selected a very poor 
and sordid street in the city where he had 
met his loss, and betook himself there to 
live ; not, I believe, with any idea of work 
among the poor, but because he had 
probed life to the bottom in his own ex- 
perience, and he felt constrained to seek 
a lower depth. He had acquired that 
passionate abnegation which is the child 
of grief; not undervaluing the joys of 
time, he had learned that they were not 
131 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

for him. Now his life became very sim- 
ple, very humble, in the expectancy of its 
attitude; for he leaned upon God, and 
waited until he should be told what to do. 
There are strange, vivid memories of him 
among the people with whom he walked. 
Evidently he gave munificently, yet from 
such austerity of life, and with such 
directness of speech and action, that few 
presumed to bleed him further. In that 
same dark region remain to-day strange 
touches of magnificence and beauty; a 
great picture here, a glowing curtain 
there, dowered with a richness the pres- 
ent owners may not understand, although 
they dimly feel it. He had no formulated 
idea of charity, no recognition of the fact 
that there are theories of doing good. 
All that can be discovered about his later 
life is that he was much beloved, and 
that he loved much ; the latter, from an 
aching sense of the pain common to all 
souls, a sense of spiritual kinship. At 
least, he was spared many of the taw- 
132 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

dry temptations of youth ; for grief had 
touched him so near that she had opened 
his eyes to the foolishness of vain desires. 
He could watch the fluttering of the gar- 
ment of happiness without wondering if 
happiness were really underneath. He 
had seen the real ; thenceforth, for him, 
there was no illusion. He simply lived, 
and shared when the inner voice told him 
to share ; and as it afterwards proved, he 
made his will, and left his fortune to buy 
great tracts of pine woods for a camping- 
ground forevermore. But that does not 
pertain to his story. Sufficient to know 
that the trust has been very wisely ad- 
ministered, and that hundreds of squalid 
creatures were last summer turned loose 
there. 

Meantime Zoe Morton was fulfilling to 
the letter her own cynical prophecy of an 
unhappy marriage. There is no doubt 
whatever about the life she led with Cap- 
tain Morton. He was a frank material- 
ist. Every man has his price, said he; 
133 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

every woman also. The baser breed of 
vices are as unavoidable as any other part 
of the earthly scheme. Eat and drink — 
and die when you must. He was kind 
enough to Zoe in the manner of a man 
who would not wantonly hurt his horse 
or dog ; he would have been kinder had 
she not rebelled. But after the manner 
of her sex and nature, when they wed 
with Bottom, she went hysterical-mad. 
He got tired — and he rode away. Then, 
after five years of marriage and two of 
acute invalidism, thus she wrote Francis 
Hume : — 



I SEND this to the Boston post-office 
in the hope of finding you. My aunt 
thinks she saw you in the street the 
other day ; but I did not need that to tell 
me you were here. I have guessed it for 
a long time. I have almost felt you knew 
how I suffer. I am asking an impossi- 
ble service. Captain Morton is abroad, 
134 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

and he refuses to come home. I am 
dying, and he will not believe it. I have 
written him and cabled him ; but I have 
said I was dying for the last three years. 
Now it is true. Will you go over there 
and see him ? Make him believe it 
Make him come to me. I do not know 
how — but make him. His bankers are 
Baring Bros. Perhaps they can tell you 
where he is. 



DEAR LADY,— I start to-night. It Francis 
was generous of you to ask me. t "z* e 

He Shall COme. Montrose 



BUT Captain Morton was not to be 
found, either in England or on the 
Continent ; and so there was much delay 
which must have tried the soul of the 
messenger beyond endurance. Through 
one of the foolish ironies of life, the 
captain ("rather fat," six years before!) 
i35 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

had decided, in a futile blindness to his 
own limitations, to join an exploring party 
to the interior of Abyssinia. He had 
always a childish vanity ; perhaps that 
led him to ignore all the habits of his 
luxurious past and seek healthier living 
through the means he had despised. 
Thus to nourish himself for more vices ! 
So does the bon vivant recuperate at 
Spas. 

Thither, as soon as Francis Hume 
could get upon his track, he followed 
him, through danger and delay, through 
wilderness and night. The difficulties of 
the journey were a thousandfold enhanced 
by his ignorance of any definite route ; 
and he made many a maddening detour 
and experienced tragic loss in the treach- 
ery of guides. This, at least, is apparent 
from some crumpled notes of travel found 
among his possessions. At length, sud- 
denly, dramatically, he came upon his 
man. What arguments he used, no one 
can say. Perhaps Morton had grown 
136 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

sick of his fool's errand, perhaps his 
heart was really touched, at last ; but he 
did turn about and make all due speed to 
America. Francis accompanied him only 
to the fastest steamer route ; and then 
dropped off to take another boat home. 
His notes keep rigid silence concerning 
the captain. Did he hate him to the 
last, or had hatred, like other spawn of 
evil, sunk, for him, in the unplumbed 
depths of larger seas ? Captain Morton 
came home and found his wife still living. 
She died within a week, and there is a 
strange contradiction in her end. The 
nurse who was with her says that she 
moaned for him, like a child, through all 
those dreary days ; and yet when he came 
into the room she looked at him, turned 
her face to the wall, and would not speak. 
It seemed almost as if she had held her- 
self within a bond she loathed, and as if 
death had really freed her. 

Francis returned to Boston on his slow- 
sailing boat. They were coming up the 
137 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

harbor in the flush of twilight, and the 
State-house dome stood like a golden 
beehive against the sky. He had kept 
very much to himself, said one of the 
passengers who was strongly drawn to 
him, and now he stood by the rail, not 
looking forward with the seeking glance 
of those whose voyage is done, but mus- 
ingly into the sea. A little sailboat had 
been keeping alongside. Two men were 
in it, and they were plainly drunk. They 
had a little rough dog, and they were 
teasing him. The passengers looked on 
with indignant protest. One or two 
called out ; but the men swore back and 
bullied him the more. Their last pleas- 
antry was to hold him over the side with 
a feint of dropping him ; and suddenly, 
in an access of cruelty, they called out 
that he should swim for it. And then 
they dropped him. Francis Hume had 
not followed the entire occurrence; but 
the passenger who told it happened to 
glance at him at the moment when the 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

dog was thrown overboard. That he 
saw. She says he glowed at once with 
pure anger. His face lighted and flamed ; 
and two seconds after the dog went down, 
Francis Hume sprang after him. There 
was an outcry on the instant. A boat 
was lowered, but some strange clumsiness 
of execution seemed to overshadow the 
whole thing ; so that Hume had to keep 
himself afloat for what seemed a long 
time. In reality, she supposes, it was 
minutes. That was nothing. Miles of 
swimming were nothing to a man of his 
training ; but when the boat reached 
him, he threw the dog into it and himself 
slipped away. That was all. The event 
is confused in the minds of everybody 
present, and no one can wholly account 
for it. It seemed fatality. He simply 
went down, and his body was not recov- 
ered. The men in the sailboat, shocked 
into soberness, put about, and left the 
steamer in all possible haste ; and the 
passenger who told me the story dried 
139 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

the little dog in her shawl and promised 
him a home. But of this thing every one 
is convinced. Francis Hume must have 
gone willingly to his death, but he did 
not choose it. The sailors of the rescu- 
ing boat say that his face showed a 
strange bewilderment, but no refusal of 
their efforts ; he did not mean to drown. 
There must have been, said the ship's 
doctor, some lesion of the heart. 

Much as I know of the reality of his life 
(and it ended not so long ago), it never 
seems to me to belong to this actual 
world, this "city by the sea." For me, 
its mirror lies, strangely enough, in an- 
other life of noble ends and uncompleted 
action : Beauchamp's Career. There is 
your only parallel, even to the splendid 
futility of its close. Read this from 
Meredith's novel, which is, after all, no- 
thing less than vivid biography, and fit it 
to the end of Francis Hume. 

" An old man volunteered the informa- 
tion. c That 's the boy. That boy was 
140 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

in his father's boat out there, with two 
of his brothers, larking ; and he and an- 
other, older than him, fell overboard ; and 
just then Commander Beauchamp was 
rowing by, and I saw him from off here, 
where I stood, jump up and dive, and he 
swam to his boat with one of them, and 
got him in safe : that boy ; and he dived 
again after the other, and was down a 
long time. Either he burst a vessel or 
he got cramp, for he 'd been rowing him- 
self from the schooner grounded down 
at the river-mouth, and must have been 
hot when he jumped in ; either way, he 
fetched the second up, and sank with 
him. Down he went/ 

" A fisherman said : . . . ' Do you 
hear that voice thundering ? That 's 
the great Lord Romfrey. He 's been 
directing the dragging since five o' the 
evening, and will till he drops or drowns, 
or up comes the body.' 

" ■ O God, let 's find the body ! ' the 
woman with the little boy called out. 
141 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

"'. . . My lord! my lord !' sobbed the 
woman, and dropped on her knees. 

" ' What 's this ? ' the earl said, drawing 
his hand away from the woman's clutch 
at it. 

" ' She 's the mother, my lord/ several 
explained to him. 

" < Mother of what ? ' 

" ' My boy/ the woman cried, and 
dragged the urchin to Lord Romfrey's 
feet, cleaning her boy's face with her 
apron. 

" ' It 's the boy Commander Beau- 
champ drowned to save/ said a man. 

" All the lights of the ring were turned 
on the head of the boy. . . . The boy 
struck out both arms to get his fists 
against his eyelids. 

" This is what we have in exchange for 
Beauchamp. 

" It was not uttered, but it was visible 

in the blank stare at one another of the 

two men who loved Beauchamp, after 

they had examined the insignificant bit of 

142 



THE DAY OF HIS YOUTH 

mud-bank life remaining in this world in 
the place of him." 



BUT those of us who loved Francis 
Hume do not ask to find his body, 
even for tender burial. We only pray 
that in some bright star-passage we may 
be fortunate, and one day see his souL 
us